Canada’s First EV Battery Separator Plant to Open in 2027

Canada’s First EV Battery Separator Plant to Open in 2027
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joins Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the President of Japan's Asahi Kasei Corp., Koshiro Kudo in Port Colborne, Ont., on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)
Jennifer Cowan

A small city in Ontario’s Niagara Region will be the future site of a $1.6-billion manufacturing plant that produces key components for electric vehicle batteries.

Japanese company Asahi Kasei Corp. will set up Canada’s first lithium ion battery separator plant in Port Colborne, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced at a May 14 press conference. The Port Colborne battery parts facility is the first of two such plants coming to Ontario as part of Honda’s previously announced $15-billion investment in the province’s electric vehicle supply chain.
The Port Colborne plant will receive federal support through the Clean Technology Manufacturing investment tax credit, according to a government press release. The tax credits are part of the roughly $2.5-billion in federal subsidies announced for Honda last month. The government of Ontario will also invest $2.5 billion in the form of “both direct and indirect incentives.”

Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele said Asahi Kasei’s investment in the small city, with a population of just over 18,000, is the largest in its 154-year history.

The plant, which the mayor described as “transformational for our region,” will be located along Highway 140, south of Highway 58A in the area formerly known as the Nyon Lands. The state-of-the-art facility is expected to take up roughly 200 acres of land.

Construction will be completed by the end of this year and the plant is expected to be commercially operational in 2027. The plant will be a key part of the supply chain for Honda’s Alliston EV plant.

The two multinational Japanese companies will partner to build battery separators, one of the four key components of lithium-ion battery cells. The role of the separator is to maintain thermal stability and safety of the battery cell.

Asahi Kasei president Koshiro Kudo told reporters the company initially aimed to construct a separator plant in Europe or the United States but chose Canada because of the “support and enthusiasm” of all three levels of government and the “great quality human resources available here.”

Mr. Trudeau described the plant as a “generational investment” in the future of Canadians.

“This is what fairness looks like for every generation with good jobs and good careers for generations to come,” the prime minister told the May 14 press conference. “The No. 1 thing investors look for, the No. 1 thing that is our competitive advantage as a country, is Canadian workers themselves.”

Canadian Jobs

Both the prime minister and the premier said the plant would provide employment in the area for many years, although neither said how many jobs would be created or if a deal had been inked to ensure Canadian workers were hired.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne was asked if Ottawa had a deal in place to ensure jobs for Canadian workers, but his answer about the number of jobs was vague.

“I can assure you that, in all our discussions with partners like Asahi Kasei and all the others, we’ve always made sure that we maximize the number of jobs for Canadians, not only during the plant and the construction phase, but certainly making sure that all the suppliers will be involved in that,” he said.

Niagara Region regional chair Jim Bradley described the $1.6 billion as a “transformative moment for not just the city, but the entire Niagara region.”

“This investment will drive economic growth and environmental stewardship for generations to come, acting as a catalyst for future prosperity across the region,” he said.

Honda, which currently employs more than 4,000 people in Ontario, has said it will strive to establish a comprehensive electric vehicle value chain where the EVs will be manufactured entirely in Canada, from the procurement of raw materials mainly for batteries to the production of finished vehicles. The Port Colborne facility will be a key part of that chain as will a second, yet-to-be announced facility.

The facilities were alluded to at a press conference in Alliston, Ont., last month where Honda is set to build its new battery plant and retool its current assembly plant to produce electric vehicles.
Honda expects production in Alliston to begin in 2028, according to a company press release. The plant is expected to produce as many as 240,000 EVs per year once it is fully operational.
Jennifer Cowan is a writer and editor with the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times.