Windsor mayor calls out Ottawa after Stellantis accuses feds of failing on plant deal

In this file photo taken on Jan. 19, 2021, the Stellantis sign is seen outside the Chrysler Technology Center, in Auburn Hills, Mich. One of the world's biggest automakers says the federal government has not lived up to its deal to build a battery plant in Windsor, Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carlos Osorio

A multi-billion dollar deal that would see one of the world’s biggest automakers build an electric-vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont., is now “in question,” the city’s mayor said Saturday as he blamed the federal government for the impasse.

Stellantis, which makes Chrysler, Ram and Fiat cars among others, called out the federal government Friday about the deal made last year, saying it has begun to make “contingency plans.”

In March 2022, Stellantis and South Korean battery-maker LG Energy Solution announced they would invest $5 billion to build a massive battery manufacturing plant in the city as part of a retooling effort to focus on electric vehicles.

Construction is well underway on the plant, known as NextStar Energy, that is expected to create 2,500 jobs.

“The entire deal is now in question due to the federal government not fulfilling their commitments, jeopardizing not only the completion of the EV plant but also our efforts to attract additional investment to the region,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a statement.

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“This counterproductive impasse creates significant challenges and risks thousands of jobs in our community.”

All levels of government were to provide financial support in the pending deal, but the amount of taxpayer money pledged has not been made public.

Stellantis, for its part, expressed its displeasure with the federal government on Friday.

“As of today, the Canadian Government has not delivered on what was agreed to therefore Stellantis and LG Energy Solution will immediately begin implementing their contingency plans,” said spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin.

She declined to detail those contingency plans.

Negotiations with the company remain ongoing, the federal government said.

“We continue to negotiate in good faith with our partners,” said Laurie Bouchard, spokeswoman for Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

“Our top priority is and remains getting the best deal for Canadians.”

The province did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dilkens said the city has provided funding to prepare the site for the facility.

“As the host community, the City of Windsor has the most at risk, and we anticipate the spirit of partnership and collaboration will put us back on the path of completing this significant project,” Dilkens said.

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The potential Stellantis project is not the only major manufacturing initiative in the works in the province. The federal and Ontario governments  recently closed a deal with Volkswagen to build an EV battery plant in St. Thomas that includes billions of dollars in government subsidies.

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