SNC-Lavalin awarded first major ‘gigafactory’ contract for Ford EV plant in Canada
By Lucy Barnard22 August 2023
Project management company SNC-Lavalin has won its first major ‘gigafactory’ contract, signing an agreement to design and build a Ford EV plant in Canada.
The company said it had been awarded a C$141m (US$141m) initial works contract to build one of Canada’s largest Cathode Active Material (CAM) plants in Becancour, Quebec by Korean cathode materials specialist EcoProBM.
Earlier this month Ford signed a deal with EcoProBM and lithium-ion battery producer SK On to build the C$1.2bn (US$887m) ‘gigafactory’ which will produce electric vehicle battery materials.
When production begins in April 2026, the 280,000 sq m, six floor plant is expected to produce 45,000 tonnes of cathode active materials per year, which will be shipped to Ford assembly plants in Canada and the USA and used in EVs, especially trucks.
Cathode active materials are a key component of the batteries used in electric vehicles and represent about 40% of the cost of a battery cell.
The plant will be EcoProBM’s second overseas plant following the company’s decision in 2021 to build a plant in Debrecen, Hungary which it expects to open in the second half of 2024.
SNC-Lavalin said its Engineering Services groups will provide EcoProBM with initial concept design, basic design and project management and delivery related to the establishment of the plant.
As the world attempts to wean itself off oil, electric car makers and power storage companies are rushing to build factories capable of supplying the batteries needed, creating a huge opportunity for the contractors able to build such huge facilities to the demanding specifications needed.
In Asia, where most gigafactories have been built so far, firms like China Construction Third Engineering Bureau - part of the giant China State Construction - have built up an enviable track record including projects such as Tesla’s Giga Shanghai. And yet, consultants say that lacking local connections and manpower, these firms would find it difficult to move into other geographical regions - while the sheer scale of work available at home makes it unlikely that they would try to do so.
In the USA, contractors operating in the advanced manufacturing sector, which includes battery plant construction, include Mississippi-based Yates Construction, New York-based Turner Construction and Texas-based Austin Commercial. While in Europe, contractors operating in the sector include Bouygues subsidiary Equans and Stuttgart-based Exyte.
“EcoProBM has selected us to carry out this initial work because of our demonstrated expertise across numerous disciplines, unique end-to-end service offering, and solid supply chain, all of which we’ve demonstrated via early engagement in this ambitious project,” said Bob Alger, President, Major Projects, SNC-Lavalin.
“Via a collaborative contracting agreement, we look forward to helping EcoProBM realize its vision for the future of Canadian automotive manufacturing, and demonstrating that SNC-Lavalin is the partner of choice in establishing battery manufacturing plants and other EV-related facilities.”