The future of two automotive plants in Ontario has been up in the air, but a recent announcement by Stellantis shows that electrifying the automotive industry can be a good thing not only for the environment, but for automotive workers and the towns they live in. With a $3.6 billion investment in Canadian operations, the future of the Windsor and Brampton plants will be secured.
“These investments reaffirm our long-term commitment to Canada and represent an important step as we move toward zero-emission vehicles that deliver on our customers’ desire for innovative, clean, safe and affordable mobility,” said Stellantis North America Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart. “We’re grateful to both the federal and provincial governments for their shared vision to create a sustainable future. And, to Unifor and our workforce for their support in helping ensure the viability of our Canadian operations for the long-term.”
The announcement brings the total investment in Canada to CAD$8.6 billion when you also consider its other investment in a Stellantis-LG Chem battery plant, which will add another 2,500 jobs to the province. This battery plant will feed the battery needs of both the Windsor and Brampton plants, which will produce EVs and other electrified models.
“Today’s deal on made-in-Canada electric vehicles is yet another investment in our workers and in our future,” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “We’re building a world-class Canadian auto industry, an innovative economy and a clean, strong future for everyone. This is what a healthy environment and a healthy economy looks like.”
One Downside That We Can Turn Into An Upside
One thing CleanTechnica readers probably wouldn’t like about Stellantis’ press release is that it won’t be focusing on building battery-only EVs (BEVs) at these upgraded plants. Like some other automakers, the company will be building vehicles on “flexible architecture” platforms that could end up as anything from a gas-powered vehicle to a hybrid to a full BEV.
Environmentally, this isn’t ideal, as it gives both the company and its buyers excuses to keep burning gas. While the data doesn’t actually support the assertion that plugin-hybrids with electric range don’t get plugged in, these flexible architectures will often be built without a plug (gas or hybrid), or with EV-only ranges so low as to be considered compliance cars. In other words, if there’s not enough EV range to cover daily needs, it’s not a big environmental win.
On the other hand, being able to keep factories open and have a reasonable path to making BEVs gives us the opportunity to push the company in the right direction without hurting workers. Inflexible architectures lock companies into multi-decade paths that don’t include the possibility of making BEVs, leaving the industry in a position where they’d be looking at plant closures to make a quick jump to BEVs later. This announcement makes it clear that we can safely put the pressure on as we’ve been doing (both as activists and as potential buyers) without putting Canadian families in a position where they’ll not be sure how to keep the lights and heat on.
Featured image: Stellantis North America Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart, alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other senior government officials, announce the investment. Image by Stellantis.
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