The ground is being prepared for the arrival of Ford in the Quebec battery industry in a cathode materials plant project
– critical component of the lithium-ion battery – in Bécancour. Talks between the American auto giant and the Legault government are going well.
The most recent signal: the Canadian subsidiary of the multinational with the blue oval has just updated its registration in the Registry of Lobbyists to take steps with the Ministry of Economy and Innovation as well as Investissement Québec ( IQ), the financial arm of the Quebec state.
“Obtain competitive financial support supporting a potential investment project in Quebec in the zero-emission vehicle sector, the exact amount and type of financing of which remain to be determined,” reads this entry.
It is not vehicle construction, according to our information. Instead, we’re talking about the cathode factory complex – a component that accounts for about 40% of the cost of a battery cell – a project that had circulated last September.
This project would see the light of day in the Bécancour industrial and port park, the place favored by the government’s strategy to develop the battery industry. The place will host the factories of the joint venture formed by General Motors and POSCO as well as the German giant BASF. These two projects will receive financial support from Quebec, but the extent of the assistance has still not been quantified. Production should begin around 2025 in these two factories.
The complex envisaged by Ford would be carried out in collaboration with the South Korean cell manufacturer SK On and EcoPro Global, which specializes in battery components.
“It is progressing and it is a serious file”, indicated to The Press a government source which is not authorized to speak publicly, without however advancing on a timetable.
On Wednesday, Ford Canada would not give details on the nature of its talks with Quebec. By email, a spokesperson, Rose Pao, mentioned “competitive” reasons to justify this refusal. Ford’s lobbying efforts must be in person, in writing and through telephone discussions, depending on registration. EcoPro is already registered in the Registry of Lobbyists.
According to public information, this company is targeting land located at the intersection of Avenue des Cendres and Route de la Centrale Nucléaire, in the Bécancour industrial park. The three companies are also talking with the Trudeau government.
In interview with The Press last December, the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, laid the groundwork for the arrival of a third cathode manufacturer in the province. Without naming Ford, he had alluded to the company based in Dearborn, Michigan.
I think that we will possibly see another cathodier coming. There is one whose name is in the newspapers, then there is another. I don’t want to talk about it because technically it’s not done, but I’m very confident that we’re going to be a leader in this segment.
Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, last December
However, the context has changed since Quebec laid the foundations of the battery industry. South of the border, the Biden administration stepped on the accelerator with theInflation Reduction Act (IRA). This law provides 370 billion US to finance, in particular, battery manufacturing projects.
The Trudeau government’s response is expected in the next federal budget. However, a report produced by the Privy Council Office – which offers non-partisan advice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the cabinet – and obtained by The Press warned that US subsidies could short-circuit projects on Canadian territory.
Despite the positive signals concerning Ford, one of the nine slots in the battery chain is still vacant. This is cell manufacturing – the last step before assembling the batteries. The Britishvolt and StromVolt projects are a thing of the past. The first company filed for bankruptcy after losing control of its finances, while the second no longer has a partner to offer it the rights to a technology.
- From exploration to recycling is the number of steps in the battery chain.
Source: Government of Quebec