Facility now under construction would replace imported battery pack supply, mirrors similar pack assembly plant just announced for pending Ford Oakville EV complex
Electric Autonomy has spoken to an industry source who corroborated previous reports that General Motors is building a new battery facility at its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., where it began making BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric vans in December.
Speculation arose in January that GM may be adding a battery plant to serve the new BrightDrop production line, when a large-scale construction site opened up next door.
Now, the industry source has further clarified to Electric Autonomy that the new facility at the Ingersoll complex will be a battery pack assembly plant.
A logistical decision
This report comes just as Volkswagen is about to release details of its planned battery cell manufacturing facility in St. Thomas, Ont. The cost and scale of a full-sized cell factory like VW’s is many times greater than a battery pack assembly plant, however.
In battery cell factories raw materials are combined to make individual battery cells. But a battery pack assembly plant takes individual cells and other components from elsewhere and combines them into the unit, or pack, that is actually put into the EV.
Because the final pack is extremely heavy, it makes economic and logistical sense to ship in the components from elsewhere and then put them together near the final EV assembly line.
At CAMI, initial BrightDrop electric van production has used imported battery pack assemblies. The new plant, when completed, will replace that supply.
Given that BrightDrop has already sold out its entire 2023 model year production, this shift will no doubt be welcome.
Ford, Lion Electric doing the same
GM is not the only EV maker in Canada making battery pack assembly plant news.
Just last week, Ford Motor Co. announced it will build something similar as part of the $1.8-billion transformation of its Oakville auto assembly plant into an EV industrial park.
In Ford’s case, the Oakville battery pack assembly plant will be a 407,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its new EV assembly line. It will assemble battery cells and arrays shipped from Ford’s BlueOval SK Battery Park in Kentucky.
In Quebec, electric truck maker Lion Electric also just officially inaugurated a 175,000-square-foot battery pack assembly factory to supply batteries for its production of medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles. Final certification of the first battery pack model is expected there in the first half of 2023, followed by a gradual production ramp-up.
The size and target completion date of the battery pack assembly plant at CAMI aren’t yet known.