The relationship between General Motors (GM) and Quebec did not end well 20 years ago with the closure of the Sainte-Thérèse plant, but an important page has been turned with the announcement of the manufacturer's return to Quebec.
No, we will not see the birth of a new vehicle assembly plant, but a plan will emerge from the ground. The latter, which will be built on a site in Bécancour, will produce cathodes, the components needed to produce batteries.
GM is adding Canada to its North American supply chain for its electric vehicles. The good news for the country is that the proximity of such a plant will reduce dependence on materials imported from Asia.
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GM is counting on South Korean partner Posco Chemical for the project. The plant will of course be responsible for processing materials for GM's Ultium batteries, which will appear in all future electric products in the family. Specifically, the site will process active cathode materials, a key battery material made from components such as processed nickel, lithium and other materials that account for about 40 percent of the cost of a battery cell.
"GM and its supplier partners are creating a new, safer and more sustainable ecosystem for electric vehicles based on North American resources, technology and manufacturing expertise. Canada plays an important role in our all-electric future, and we are grateful for the strong support we have received from local, provincial and national officials to develop a North American-focused EV value chain," said Doug Parks, GM's executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.
Of course, the project has strong support from all levels of government - local, provincial and federal.
Posco Chemical, a subsidiary of steelmaker Posco, will lead the project as the majority owner of the joint venture (created with GM). Planning has been underway for months. GM announced it was working to finalize the deal with the chemical company in December.
GM Canada President and CEO Scott Bell said, "It's very exciting to see GM Canada and Quebec playing a key role in creating the emerging North American EV battery ecosystem using the 'mine to mobility' approach.
And this is not GM's latest announcement regarding investments in Canada. Scott Bell explains, "With this new processing facility in Bécancour, GM will help lead the electric vehicle battery supply chain while launching Canada's first electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ontario later this year."
As for GM's choice of Quebec, the company says it chose the location because of its (less expensive) hydroelectric grid, environmental standards and logistical links, such as a nearby deep water port. Access to Canadian battery mineral capacity was also a factor, said David Paterson, GM Canada's vice president of corporate and environmental affairs.
Paterson would not disclose the plant's planned capacity or size, but said all of its production will be used to supply GM's four Ultium battery cell plants, all of which will be located in the United States.
Finally, 200 jobs will be created as a result of this investment. Production is expected to begin in early 2025.