The Volkswagen Group is accelerating its electric vehicle (EV) strategy in North America with a plan to build its largest gigafactory to date in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. The gigafactory is expected to have an annual production capacity of up to 90 GWh in its final expansion phase and represents an investment of up to €4.8 billion ($5.7 billion) until 2030. The facility has the potential to create up to 3,000 highly skilled jobs at the factory and tens of thousands more indirect jobs in the region. The announcement was made in the presence of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a host of other dignitaries.
Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Board Member for Technology, said: “North America plays a key role in our global battery strategy. The region will become PowerCo SE’s second pillar beside Europe, with battery cells made in North America for North America. Gigafactory St. Thomas opens the door to a key market for e-mobility and battery cell production. We aim to make PowerCo a global player in the battery business and to pave the way for clean, sustainable mobility. Gigafactory St. Thomas is an important milestone in our roadmap.”
The St. Thomas factory will be Volkswagen’s first overseas gigafactory for cell manufacturing and will equip the Group brands’ EVs in the North American region with cutting-edge unified cells, a whole new cell technology designed for volume production. Groundbreaking is planned for 2024, and production is projected to begin in 2027. The cell factory is part of a larger plan that Volkswagen and PowerCo agreed upon with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in August last year. The Memorandum of Understanding signed at the time focuses on battery value creation and raw material security to promote e-mobility in the country.
The decision to expand PowerCo SE’s cell production network to Canada is further proof of the ambitious growth strategy of the Volkswagen Group in North America. This includes the introduction of the broadest portfolio of full-electric vehicles in the United States and Canada by 2030, the expansion of Electrify America’s coast-to-coast charging network in the US and Canada, as well as the announcement of the iconic Scout brand to deliver its first all-electric vehicles in 2026.
Frank Blome, CEO of PowerCo SE, said: “We are honoured to partner with Canada, Ontario, and the City of St. Thomas to take the EV industry to a new level. PowerCo was founded in Europe to make a difference in the battery business, offering cutting-edge cell technology and sustainable manufacturing. That includes the creation of up to 3,000 new jobs and great working conditions for our employees in the St. Thomas area. We share the same values and are committed to be a reliable partner for the people in St. Thomas and Ontario.”
Ontario is a leader in the global automotive industry and right on track to become a powerhouse in the emerging EV space. With more than 700 automotive-related companies, full access to critical minerals, and its end-to-end, ethical battery supply chain, Ontario offers perfect conditions for EV investments. Since 2020, Ontario has attracted almost CAD 13 billion ($10.4 billion) in EV and EV battery investments.