Stellantis is investing in Canada for EV manufacturing—and battery braintrust

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The automaker Stellantis, the parent of Jeep, Chrysler, and Ram, among many others, announced Monday that it plans to spend about $2.8 billion on a manufacturing overhaul of its Canadian plants, preparing for flexible architectures for EVs and electrified vehicles in general—including a “multi-energy” strategy.

The new investment is part of an initiative announced last summer to spend about $35 billion over five years, with four platforms to provide electrified architectures it can scale across its 14 brands and anything from minicars to big trucks and vans. 

Chrysler Airflow concept

Starting in 2023, the Windsor, Ontario, plant that makes Chrysler minivans, including the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, will be transformed into a site that can build “a new multi-energy vehicle (MEV) architecture that will provide battery-electric (BEV) capability for multiple models,” according to Stellantis, with flexible production to meet market demand as it evolves. 

Chrysler recently suggested to Green Car Reports that it is “rethinking” the minivan for the electric era. 

The other factory to be revamped is in Brampton, Ontario. Stellantis says that it “will be retooled and fully modernized, beginning in 2024.” It now makes the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans, as well as the Dodge Challenger coupe. But in a release, the company said that it will be the site to introduce “an all-new, flexible architecture to support the company’s electrification plans.”

Dodge EV muscle car and platform – 2021 Stellantis EV Day

That factory, which currently builds the Hellcat muscle cars that have given Dodge some strong brand recognition in the U.S., could shift to electric performance pretty quickly. The brand has said that a Dodge electric muscle car is arriving by 2024, with a concept previewing the model due this year. 

Outside of two assembly plants in Mexico, Stellantis’ North American manufacturing footprint is focused in the U.S. Great Lakes region. It has U.S. vehicle assembly plants in Belvidere, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Sterling Heights, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; and Warren, Michigan. 

Chrysler hasn’t yet revealed an equivalent plan for its U.S. plants—although a report last fall pegged the Belvidere plant for the electric muscle cars. 

It’s also yet unclear whether the Windsor plant might produce the expected plug-in hybrid Ram pickup that’s been described as a Range Electric Paradigm Breaker

Range Electric Paradigm Breaker – 2021 Stellantis EV Day

Stellantis has indicated that it will go after what it sees as the more profitable product opportunities for EVs. CEO Carlos Tavares last year underscored that the added cost of manufacturing electric vehicles is “beyond the limits” for what the auto industry can sustain. 

The automaker also confirmed plans to open its first battery lab in North America—also in Windsor, Ontario. The 100,000-square-foot facility will be complete by the end of 2023 and will serve as a technology center for “the development and validation of advanced BEV, PHEV, and HEV cells, modules, and battery packs.”

This is all in addition to the company’s March announcement to form a joint-venture company with LG Energy Solution to manufacture EV batteries in Windsor, at a $4.1 billion facility that, it says, “will “meet a significant portion of Stellantis’ vehicle production requirements in North America.”