Canadian automotive supply giant Magna International is building a $40-million factory in Chatham, Ont., to better serve Ford Motor Co. with much-needed battery enclosures for the new Ford F-150 Lighting electric pickup.
The facility, in the city about 50 miles east of Windsor, will be an extension of its Formet Industries operations in nearby St. Thomas, where it primarily makes seating and trim for the auto industry.
The new 170,000-square-foot facility is expected to create up to 150 new jobs, the company said in a statement March 30.
“We have been able to secure additional business that allows us to grow in two great communities,” said Mark Johnson, Magna’s Formet Industries general manager.
The Chatham plant will build the industry’s largest lightweight aluminum battery enclosure, said Magna, calling it “game-changing,” due to its ability to cut total weight of the vehicle and thereby increase range.
Due to demand, Ford Motor Co. has capped global reservations for the pickup at nearly 200,000 units, but has not said how many of those reservations have converted to actual orders.
Formet Plant Manager Phil Page told the Chatham Daily News that the new factory will initially produce 60,000 battery enclosures per year and then expand to upwards of 120,000 units annually.
According to the newspaper, the enclosures will be built at the former Crown Metal Packaging plant, which produced metal cans for food packaging until 2015. The facility has sat vacant since.
Page told the Chatham Daily News that more than $40 million will be spent on the operation within the first 18 months, with the possibility of an additional $40-million investment in the future.
The investment is just the latest in a string of Canadian factories tied to the electric-vehicle supply chain.
Earlier in March, General Motors and BASF each announced battery materials processing plants in Quebec. Honda then announced a retooling of its assembly plants in Alliston, Ont., in order to build hybrid vehicles there. And on March 23, Stellantis and LG Energy together unveiled plans for a $5-billion EV battery plant in Windsor, Ont.