The Volkswagen Group and its battery company PowerCo SE are to go ahead with plans to build the group’s biggest gigafactory to date. The facility in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada will have an annual production capacity of up to 90GWh once final expansion has been completed. Up to US$5.3bn (C$7bn) will be invested in the project until 2030 and approximately 3,000 skilled jobs will be created in the region.
“North America plays a key role in our global battery strategy,” commented Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group board member for technology. “The region will become PowerCo SE’s second pillar beside Europe, with battery cells made in North America for North America. Gigafactory St. Thomas opens the door to a key market for e-mobility and battery cell production. We aim to make PowerCo a global player in the battery business and to pave the way for clean, sustainable mobility. Gigafactory St. Thomas is an important milestone in our roadmap.”
The gigafactory in St. Thomas will be the company’s first overseas site for cell manufacturing and will be used to equip the group brands’ BEVs in the North American region with advanced unified cells –newly designed cell technology suited to volume production. Groundbreaking at the site is scheduled for 2024, with production expected to start in 2027. The cell factory forms part of a larger plan agreed by Volkswagen, PowerCo and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A memorandum of understanding – signed in August 2022 – placed a key focus on battery value creation and raw material security to promote e-mobility in the country.
The cell factory will cover 150ha, with the entire industrial and supplier park covering 607ha. The site is strategically located approximately 30km south of London, Ontario, in the center of the Great Lakes Automotive Corridor and near Toronto and Detroit. This will enable PowerCo to access good transportation infrastructure and established supply chains. The factory will be supplied with 100% CO2-free energy.
“We are honored to partner with Canada, Ontario and the City of St. Thomas to take the EV industry to a new level,” said Frank Blome, CEO of PowerCo SE. “PowerCo was founded in Europe to make a difference in the battery business, offering cutting-edge cell technology and sustainable manufacturing. That includes the creation of up to 3,000 new jobs and great working conditions for our employees in the St. Thomas area. We share the same values and are committed to being a reliable partner for the people in St. Thomas and Ontario.”
“VW’s decision to establish its first overseas gigafactory in Canada speaks to our country’s competitiveness when it comes to attracting major investments,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and industry. “It is also a vote of confidence in Canada as the green supplier of choice to the world. With Volkswagen and PowerCo, our government looks forward to working together toward a cleaner, more sustainable and resilient economy.”
“Last October, we met with Volkswagen in Germany to discuss the possibility of a new EV battery manufacturing facility,” explained Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade. “Six months later, we’re proud to say this potential will become a reality. Volkswagen’s historic investment will strengthen our end-to-end electric vehicle supply chain and create better-paying jobs for workers in St. Thomas and across the province.”
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