As the southern-most region in Ontario, Windsor-Essex is situated at the heart of the richest consumer market in the world, with over 200 million people located within a 13-hour drive. The region is directly linked to the busiest commercial Canada–U.S. border crossing, handling approximately one third of all Canada–United States trade of nearly $1 billion CAD daily. The region’s prime location, quality of life, great economic prospects and highly skilled workforce make it an easy decision when considering an ideal place to start or expand your business.
Known as an automotive manufacturing powerhouse, the region is home to more than 1,000 manufacturers, 450 automation firms, and 350 parts, machine, tool, die and mold companies that are leaders in next-generation vehicle production.
Two OEMs, Ford Motor Company of Canada and Stellantis N.V. (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) have production plants in Windsor-Essex. In fact, the region is home to Canada’s largest automotive cluster, with a concentration of companies 120 per cent greater than anywhere else in Canada. The region also boasts an automobility cluster more than 50 per cent larger than any other location in Canada.
Building on the region’s rich history in the development and production of the automobile, Windsor-Essex is now leading the next-generation automotive industry as Canada’s primary integrated supply chain for the development and production of connected, autonomous and electric vehicles (EVs).
Windsor-Essex has been successful in attracting billions of dollars in invest- ment over the past few years including the $5 billon CAD joint venture between Stellantis N.V. and LG Energy Solution (LGES) to build the NextStar Energy Inc. electric vehicle battery plant. This is the first large-scale, domestic electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in Canada. Construction on the 4.5-mil- lion square-foot plant is well underway with a targeted completion in the first quarter of 2024. This project has been the catalyst for the creation of a strong battery supply chain across the Windsor-Essex region.
Fast on the heels of the NextStar announcement came the deal to see South Korean manufacturer Dongshin Motech (operating in Canada as DS C&K Inc.) build a $60 million CAD EV supply plant in Windsor, its first in North America. The plant will manufacture highly specialized aluminum casings for EV batteries and will employ approximately 300 people. Together, these two facilities will employ approximately 3,000 people in the region.
As part of a $3.6 billion CAD investment, Stellantis also announced retooling of the Windsor Assembly Plant to produce EVs and a 100,000-square-foot electric battery lab that will be added to the company’s Automotive Research and Development Centre. The new battery lab will be central to Stellantis’ R&D operations in North America and serve the company’s worldwide needs for technology, process and product development.
Further adding to Windsor-Essex’s growing battery technology cluster is the Flex-Ion Battery and Innovation Centre (a division of Flex-n-Gate). It will be the company’s lead R&D facility for battery design, development and testing. The company has invested $20 million CAD into the facility and equipment to become a premier battery testing location.
Windsor-Essex is one of seven Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) Regional Technology Development Sites, with a focus on cross-border technologies and cybersecurity. Windsor-Essex is also home to Canada’s largest publicly accessible virtual reality (VR) CAVE as well as the Canadian Automobility Hub. The Invest WindsorEssex VR CAVE serves as a commercialization tool to support connected, autonomous and electric vehicle development through virtual reality and prototyping.
A first for Canada, the Canadian Automobility Hub brings together region- al ecosystem partners, including all levels of government, local post-secondary institutions, program service providers and businesses, as well as bi-national private sector partners. It offers a suite of resources and services, including a state-of-the-art ramp-up factory, to enable and support a network of innovative entrepreneurs and businesses interested in advancing the market for electric, zero-emission, as well as connected and automated vehicle technology and infrastructure.
Windsor-Essex, Ont. is a place for growth and opportunity. The region is on track to be the battery capital of Canada and most likely North America. The current developments and investments in the region’s expanding EV sup- ply chain is a direct indication that businesses and individuals in the automotive and EV industry should set their sites on Windsor-Essex, Ont., Canada.
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