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Linamar Shifting Focus to EV Supply

Aug. 8, 2023
Acquiring three battery-tray manufacturing operations, and planning a new “gigacasting” plant in Ontario, are two parts of the tier supplier’s “transition towards ‘electrified mobility’ world.”

Linamar Corp. acquired three battery-enclosure manufacturing plants from Dura-Shiloh in an all-cash transaction for $325 million. The Ontario-based manufacturer of various industrial and transport-related parts and systems will organize the new plants as part of a new Linamar Structures Operating Group, and it promised to detail further plans during an upcoming conference call.

“We are excited to complete this acquisition, a further step forward in Linamar’s transition towards an ‘electrified mobility’ world, bolstering our growing Structures and Chassis business portfolio,” according to a statement by executive chairman and CEO Linda Hasenfratz.

Those plans seem likely to include more details about Linamar’s earlier announcement that it will launch a “gigacasting” operation in Welland, Ont., during the first quarter of 2025. The new plant reportedly will be home to a super-sized (6,100 tons) high-pressure diecasting machine, to form large structural components for passenger vehicles – as pioneered by Tesla automotive engineers to minimize vehicle assembly. It would be the first such diecasting operation in North America.

Linamar has not indicated the supplier of its HPDC system.

“Gigacastings are the next step in the evolution of our high-pressure diecasting strategy,” according to Linamar president and COO Jim Jarrell. “The Welland Gigacasting facility will have capabilities few companies in the world possess. There is an increasing trend of cast aluminum being used in vehicle architectures, particularly BEVs. Structural aluminum castings offer an alternative to traditional steel stamping and weldments, creating a less complex and more lightweight solution for OEMs.”

The former Dura Shiloh's battery-enclosure business produces both high strength steel and composite material designs with precision bonding.

Two of the new plants are in Europe – Skopje, North Macedonia and Strakonice, Czech Republic – and the third is an operation opened in January 2022 in Muscle Shoals, Ala, to supply aluminum EV battery enclosures to the Mercedes-Benz electric battery pack plant in central Alabama. The buyer has called the Muscle Shoals plant a “state-of-the-art, premiere battery-enclosures operation that Linamar will be able to showcase to other OEM customers in order to win future business.”

Battery enclosures for electric vehicles are typically metal or plastic structures that enclose the battery and protect it from external interference, and it may serve as an insulator or functions as part of a battery cooling system.

Linamar already has several battery-tray and enclosure products in production, in North America and Europe. Those include both diecast aluminum as well as welded aluminum assemblies.

Currently Linamar has two operating divisions, Industrial and Mobility, the latter of which is focused on propulsion systems, structural and chassis systems, energy storage and power generation for both electrified and traditionally powered vehicle markets.