Talks around Stellantis’ electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont. are seeing “progress,” Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Friday, following a pledge by Ontario Premier Doug Ford to commit more money to the automaker.
The comments come amid concerns over the future of the project after Stellantis stopped construction earlier this week, claiming the federal government “has not delivered what was agreed to.”
“I told you that I remain very confident that we will come to an agreement with the company,” Champagne said, adding he had dinner with LG Energy Solution’s president this week and there’s a “common understanding” going forward.
“We are making progress.”
Stellantis and LG Energy Solution announced last year that they were building the $5-billion plant in Windsor that would create 2,500 jobs in the vehicle manufacturing hub.
While the full amounts have not to be disclosed, all levels of government were to provide financial support.
The CEOs of the two companies wrote last month to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying Ottawa had confirmed in writing five times that it would match production incentives under the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), but has not delivered on those commitments.
Champagne said Tuesday he was “confident” they could come to a deal with LG and Stellantis but urged the Ontario government to “pay your fair share.”
Ford said a day later in a press conference he was “disappointed” and didn’t know why Ottawa is calling on his government to pay its “fair share,” saying the province had signed its own deal with Stellantis for a $500-million capital contribution — the same amount committed to Volkswagen for an electric vehicle battery facility in St. Thomas, Ont. — but it has not been involved in the federal government’s production incentive discussions.
The federal government offered Volkswagen a $700-million capital contribution and up to $13 billion in production subsidies for the batteries it makes over the first decade, to match what the company would get in production tax credits under the IRA.
On Friday, Ford announced the provincial government had offered more money in a bid to keep the companies from pulling out of building the plant.
“I will confirm we’re putting more money on the table,” he said after an unrelated announcement in St. Catharines, Ont.
In a statement to Global News Friday, a spokesperson for Stellantis said they were not commenting at this time about Ford’s pledge.
Champagne said later Friday that discussions with Stellantis and Volkswagen have been done “in parallel,” and that the talks with Stellantis had probably started even before those with Volkswagen.
“Obviously when the IRA came, they asked that we sit down to make sure that in the spirit of maintaining that very important activity in Canada, that we look at what we can do,” he said.
“I wish that Canadians would not be too concerned over that, we’re going to get to an agreement.”
–With files from Aaron D’Andrea, Global News and The Canadian Press
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.