Ford, partners pick Canada for $900 million battery materials plant

Steve Scherer Thu, August 17, 2023, 10:32 AM EDTIn this article: 

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) -A consortium of Ford Motor Co and South Korean companies on Thursday said they would build a C$1.2 billion ($887 million)plant to produce electric vehicle (EVs) battery materials in Becancour, Quebec, a town seeking to become an EV-supply-chain hub, Canada’s industry ministry said.

The consortium includes South Korean partners EcoProBM and SK On Co Ltd, according a statement from the ministry. The factory will eventually produce 45,000 tonnes of cathode active materials (CAM) per year for Ford EVs.

Ford in a separate statement described the materials as high-quality Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM) for rechargeable batteries that are targeting greater performance and improved EV range.

“This cathode facility will supply the material that goes into Ford’s future EVs in North America, specifically some of our future trucks,” Lisa Drake, Ford vice president for EVs, told reporters.

It is Ford’s first investment in Quebec, although it has operated in neighboring Ontario for more than a century.

Canada’s federal government will provide the consortium with a conditional loan of C$322 million and Quebec will offer the same amount as a partially forgivable loan, the statement said. The factory is expected to be operational in the first half of 2026, creating more than 345 jobs.

This is the latest in a series of construction announcements for Becancour, a town of fewer than 15,000 people on the St. Lawrence River that is shaping up to be an EV-supply-chain hub in North America.

“This is a big vote of confidence in the (EV) ecosystem we’ve been building,” Canada industry minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told Reuters. “This is very significant for Quebec, because as you know the auto sector has been primarily investing in Ontario, but now we have GM, now we have Ford in Becancour.”

General Motors Co and South Korea’s POSCO Future M in May said they would increase production capacity at a chemical battery materials facility whose construction was first announced last year. Germany’s BASF SE is also building a battery materials factory there.

Canada, home to a large mining sector for minerals including lithium, nickel and cobalt, is trying to woo companies involved in all levels of the EV supply chain via a multibillion-dollar green technology fund as the world seeks to cut carbon emissions.

German automaker Volkswagen and Stellantis, the parent of brands including Fiat and Chrysler, are building multibillion-dollar battery plants west of Quebec in Ontario, the heartland of Canada’s fossil-fuel-powered car industry that has historical trade and production links with the Detroit carmakers.

($1 = 1.3525 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Porter)

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