Volkswagen has announced that its first gigafactory in North America will be located in the city of St. Thomas in Ontario. By establishing a battery plant in North America, Volkswagen hopes to meet a major requirement to enable its EV's to be eligible for the US Federal tax credit of $7,500.
The St. Thomas factory will be a joint venture between VW and Power Co., a new independent company created by the automaker to oversee its massive $20 billion battery initiatives. After starting construction on two other gigafactories, this will be the third plan worldwide and PowerCo's first cell factory in North America. Production at the St. Thomas factory is set to start in 2027.
The Toronto Star states that Volkswagen officials toured the 1,500 acre parcel of land in southwestern Ontario that is now set to be their facility's home, and then met with Premier Doug Ford on February 23rd.
"I think that means a very large plant with a very large workforce. We're already clearing the land and getting things ready for as fast of a construction that we can do. In the long run, it's maybe more than we can dream. It's that good for St. Thomas."
St. Thomas Mayor | Joe Preston
St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston stated that the plant will likely result in thousands of jobs, at the plant itself, along the supply chain and during the plant's construction, which is expected to take two to four years.
CBC News reports that Flavio Volpe, head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association (APMA), said the new plant could result in as many as 2,500 direct jobs created and up to 7,500 total jobs including indirect positions.
The province recently passed legislation that would allow the City of St. Thomas to annex 607 hectares of farmland from the Municipality of Central Elgin. The aim is to turn the parcel into industrial lands as part of what the province called an investment "mega-site."
Batteries at the plant, once built, would be manufactured by PowerCo, a Volkswagen subsidiary in its first overseas battery manufacturing plant.
Brendan Sweeney is the managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing at Western University in London, Ontario. He said that by the time the plant is built, it will likely feed at least three other EV manufacturing plants in North America, including a yet-to-be-built EV plant in the Carolinas and a not-yet announced Audi plant, the location of which is still to be determined.
Sweeney stated that the plant could be as big, if not bigger, than the recently announced Stellantis EV battery plant in Windsor, which will employ 2,500 workers. He also said the announcement means St. Thomas will likely see a large amount of growth in the form of new housing and more suppliers in order to serve the new plant.
Sweeney also said that part of the reason Volkswagen may have chosen the St. Thomas site is because of recent layoffs at the CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll and the Brose auto-parts manufacturing plant in London, as well as the recent closure of the Johnson Controls International plant in Tillsonburg. This available workforce knows the auto industry very well and would be available for work at the Volkswagen plant.
Posted by Judy Lamelza