NextStar Energy EV battery plant begins big hiring spree

Dave Waddell/The Windsor Star

The NextStar Energy battery plant announced Monday it’s begun hiring workers for what will become one of the biggest electric vehicle battery plants in the world.

The hiring bonanza — the Windsor plant will directly employ 2,500 workers once fully operational in 2025 — is seeking 130 employees initially. Thirty people in finance, human resources and communications are needed for its Windsor headquarters, as well as a mix of 100 engineers and technicians.

“They will be our launch team,” said NextStar CEO Danies Lee.

“The expectations are the engineers and technicians will be ready to train the next intake of employees,” he said. “They will play a critical role in the start of production.”

Lee also confirmed the Windsor facility is boosting production capacity to 49 gigawatt hours from the 45 GWh originally announced in March 2022.

It’s the result of a decision to focus on the higher-energy cells needed for fully electric vehicles and to abandon plans to also produce batteries for plug-in hybrids. The plant will produce batteries for 500,000 vehicles per year.

“NextStar Energy’s move to begin hiring workers for Canada’s first EV battery manufacturing plant is another example of Ontario’s growing momentum as a global leader in the electric vehicle revolution,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade.

“The new facility will be a key part of our province’s end-to-end EV supply chain, creating 2,500 good-paying manufacturing jobs in Windsor and the surrounding region.”

Applications for the positions are available on the company’s website or its social media pages on Meta (Facebook) and

Lee said the engineers and technicians hired will be sent to LG Energy Solutions’ plant in Poland for three months of training. After completing that training, NextStar will send them to either China or South Korea for another one to two months of training on the shop floor.

The company hired 40 engineers in its first round of hiring last November.

“No battery plant in North America will be producing batteries in the volume and quality we’ll be doing here,” said Lee, who also confirmed the $5 billion construction price tag for the plant has been pushed ‘significantly higher’ by inflation.

“We’re bringing a whole new way of doing manufacturing and a different way of how our employees will work to Windsor. Two-thirds of our capital investment is in equipment and automation.

“It’s very sophisticated machinery and technology. We look at our employees as our most critical assets and we’ll be giving them extensive, proprietary training to ensure they’re not intimidated by the machines on the shop floor.”

Lee said the module plant will employ 200 to 300 people, including some of these new hires. He said hiring for that plant will begin in April 2024 with production in the plant starting at the beginning of July 2024.

He’s hoping to see machinery start to move into the module plant at the beginning of December after losing seven weeks of construction time this spring due to the dispute over government subsidies.

The cell plant will begin production in January 2025 and, when full production is reached at the end of that year, it will employ about 2,200 people.

“Today’s announcement is yet another concrete example of how our investments are creating well-paying jobs in Ontario and beyond,” said federal Minister of Science, Innovation and Industry Francois-Phillipe Champagne.

“It also marks an important step as we move towards zero-emissions vehicles while ensuring that the cars of the future are made right here in Canada.

“Our government will continue to work tirelessly to strengthen our economy, lead the global fight against climate change and create well paying jobs for generations to come.”

The breakdown of job classifications required are about 500-plus engineers, 400-plus technicians and 1,550-plus operators.

“I expect the 130 people we’re hiring now will come from this area,” Lee said. “We expect to be able to hire most of our employees from the area, because of the skills people have.

“We won’t be limited to Windsor or Ontario and international hiring is a possibility.”

Lee said the talent pool is a main reason LG Energy Solution and Stellantis selected the Windsor area for the battery factory. He noted the first thing he did when arriving permanently last July was liaison with St. Clair College and the University of Windsor on ensuring the talent pipeline was full and with the skillset required.

“We’ve got one program with the college on battery manufacturing ready to launch this year,” Lee said. “We need talent for the long-term.

“Wherever we’ve been, LG has always cooperated closely with academia.”

That talent will also be needed for the South Korean supply chain companies Lee said will start popping up locally now. Lee added NextStar wants as much of its supply chain as close as possible to the plant.

“We experienced huge supply chain disruptions with the (COVID) pandemic,” Lee said.

“Having the supply chain close is important. We’ve told our suppliers, if they can, locate here.”

Lee said NextStar will soon begin to reach out to local companies to incorporate them into its supply chain.

“We should’ve had two or three local suppliers’ days already, but given the experiences of the past six months, we didn’t get to do that,” Lee said.

“Local suppliers’ days are going to be part of our calendar. It’s a natural and important thing to do, if they’re competitive as we expect they will be, to have local products rather than imported.”

Lee expects area companies will be able to easily handle making the parts needed for the casings produced at the module plant as well as supply automation and robotics.

“I am proud to say that these jobs are the result of the unwavering commitment and partnership between NextStar Energy, upper levels of government and the City of Windsor,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

“We worked relentlessly to bring and keep the plant here in Windsor and firmly believe that these jobs are just the beginning of a prosperous economic future for our city and region. These well-paying jobs will create opportunities for the next generation of Windsorites.”