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Auto workers’ union Unifor has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that will see the automaker’s Windsor plant retooled to make plug-in or hybrid vehicles starting 2024. FCA will invest between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion as part of the three-year tentative collective agreement between the union and the automaker. (The Globe and Mail, The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the second major electric-vehicle investment in Canada announced by one of the Big Three automakers this fall; Ford Motors recently announced it would be investing $1.8 billion, alongside the provincial and federal government, to turn its Oakville plant into an EV manufacturing hub. The “lion’s share” of the $1.5-billion investment will come from FCA, according to Unifor national president Jerry Dias, but the union is also in negotiations with federal and provincial governments for additional money. FCA’s Windsor assembly plant still employs 4,600 people, after a massive 1,500-person layoff in June when the facility moved into a two-shift schedule. Unifor said the EV investment will add 2,000 jobs to the Windsor plant.

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The federal and Ontario governments will each contribute $295 million to the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont. as part of a combined $1.8-billion investment to turn the factory into an electric-vehicle manufacturing hub. Ford plans to make five different models of battery-powered electric vehicles in the plant starting 2026. Batteries for the vehicles will also be assembled at the plant, according to Dean Stoneley, the president and CEO of Ford Canada. “Support from the federal and provincial governments were crucial in securing this transformational investment,” Stoneley said. (CBC News, The Logic)

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Talking point: Ford’s commitment to bringing electric vehicles to Oakville hinged on government support. Global sales of electric vehicles in China, Europe and North America were still just 4.8 per cent of total vehicle sales in 2019, and the Big Three automakers have so far been reluctant to aggressively pivot to EVs. Ford had assigned no new products to the Oakville plant beyond 2023—the electric-vehicle initiative guarantees at least 3,000 of the current 3,400 jobs will still be around in six years, according to Unifor national president Jerry Dias. “The auto industry is not a sunset industry, but a sunrise industry,” he declared at Thursday’s announcement, flanked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

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Ford will build the vehicles mainly in Windsor and Oakville in Ontario as part of a settlement reached with Unifor, whose members still need to ratify the deal. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Unifor’s leadership is ecstatic about the deal. “We are now positioned to be the jewel in Ford’s crown, and a key part of Ford’s future success transitioning to greener technology. As an organization, we’ve hit a home run,” said national president Jerry Dias. Ford’s commitment secures automobile manufacturing jobs in Windsor and Oakville for several decades. Currently, electric vehicle sales make up 2.7 per cent of global new car sales. That number is on track to reach 58 per cent by 2040, according to a BloombergNEF analysis. Unifor estimates that $300 billion has been spent globally on electric-vehicle production, but this is the first money allocated for Canadian production. Tesla is expected to announce its battery-production plans after newsletter publication Tuesday. The Unifor deal includes the rights to build five vehicles and their batteries. If ratified during a Sunday night vote by members, Unifor will move to negotiate with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles next, then General Motors.

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“The temporary economic lockdown triggered by the 2020 pandemic is giving us a glimpse into a not-too-distant future where the transformation of our energy system could disrupt demand on a similar scale,” Mark Little wrote in an opinion piece also co-written by Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease for Corporate Knights, urging the energy industry to turn to new growth opportunities. (Corporate Knights)

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Talking point: Suncor reported a first-quarter net loss of $3.53 billion, showing the Calgary-based company is feeling the pain from COVID-19 and resulting low oil demand. Little said he doesn’t expect a full recovery for Suncor or the Canadian energy sector until at least 2022. The challenges go beyond the pandemic: last month, Norway’s US$1-trillion wealth fund blacklisted Suncor for producing excessive greenhouse gas emissions. He addressed those issues in the column, in which he urged the industry to “focus investments on disruptive advantage” and develop low-carbon technologies “to commercial scale.”

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Natural Resources Canada and NB Power contributed a combined $1.27 million for seven new charging stations in Campbellton, Caraquet, Shediac, St. Andrews, St. Stephen, Sussex and Fredericton. The province now has 93 places to plug in an electric vehicle. Local MP Karen Ludwig said the new locations were chosen to ensure drivers could get between stations without running out of fuel. (Telegraph-Journal)

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Talking point: Widespread use of electric vehicles in North America depends on more charging infrastructure. But New Brunswick’s network has yet to drive many cars onto the roads—there were only 97 in the province as of September 2017, according to research firm FleetCarma. The chargers aren’t being used much. The CBC checked four locations that were launched in October 2017 and found they had been used by between one and three cars each in December that year. Still, the federal government continues to fund new builds via its $182.5-million Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative, of which $14.47 million has been allocated so far.

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The federal government has spent $225 million of the $300 million it budgeted to incentivize Canadians to buy electric vehicles (EV). The program, which launched in May 2019, offers a $5,000 rebate to EV buyers. (MobileSyrup)

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Talking point: The funding is on pace to run out before the end of the three-year program. Advocates are asking the government to top up the fund to keep it going. EV incentives are proving attractive for Canadians, but Ottawa’s $5,000 may not be quite enough to get consumers off of fossil fuels. Eighty-six per cent of EV sales were in Quebec and B.C., which both have separate provincial incentives, while Ontario, which cancelled its EV rebate, saw just 12 per cent of sales.

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Previous investor T. Rowe Price Associates led the round. Others included Soros Fund Management, Coatue, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Baron Capital Group and existing shareholders Amazon and BlackRock. (CNBC)

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Talking point: The round follows an active 2019 for the company that brought in US$2.85 billion in funds through a series of investments. Rivian has a contract with Amazon to build a total of 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030 at its factory in Illinois. It is also expected to be among the first to roll out an all-electric pickup truck next year. CEO Robert Scaringe told CNBC last month that Rivian had no plans to go public, but welcomed additional financing to support its “aggressive growth plans,” noting the company was “seeing demand being significantly higher than what we initially anticipated, which is leading us to capacitive for higher levels of volume.”