General Motors is investing $1.6 billion into two of its Canadian plants to build electric vehicles, while adding a third shift to its Oshawa, Ontario plant to build more pickup trucks.
The company is putting more than a billion dollars into its plants in Ingersoll and Oshawa to expand their manufacturing technologies and capabilities. The Ingersoll plant will become the company’s first “full-scale” EV production facility, building the new BrightDrop Zevo 600 all-electric delivery van.
The vans, previously called EV600s, will go into production at the CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, in December, after the retooling is complete, officials said.
“Later this year, our CAMI plant in Ingersoll will begin Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle manufacturing with BrightDrop,” said Marissa West, GM Canada president and managing director. “This partnership with the Governments of Ontario and Canada is helping GM build a more diverse, innovative and sustainable industry and EV supply chain for the future — and we are proud to be doing that right here in Canada.”
More pickups please
While the new all-electric plant is big news, the addition of the third shift at the Oshawa plant reveals the company’s looking for ways to make up some of the production lost to semiconductor and other shortages that have plagued the industry.
GM Canada also announced the Oshawa Assembly plant will be adding light-duty pickup production and a third shift of production in the coming months. As a result, Oshawa will be the only GM plant producing both heavy-duty and light-duty pickups, enabling flexibility and responsiveness to the North American market.
With the addition of the third shift, GM Canada will have added more than 2,600 new jobs in the Oshawa plant since it reopened. Fifty per cent of new production hires at the Oshawa plant are women, reflecting GM’s focus on diversity in the workplace.
GM also announced it will sign onto the Canada Diversity Challenge and the Canada Net Zero Challenge.
Resurrection of Oshawa
The addition of the third shift and new production basically undoes what GM once call the “Oshawa Transformation.”
GM announced in 2018 it was ending vehicle assembly in Oshawa as part of a corporate restructuring that also led to the shutdown of the company’s big assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. However, the company’s union, Unifor, once known as the Canadian Auto Workers union, pushed hard to save it, employing tried-and-true union tactics to make their point and gain leverage.
Members of Unifor staged a series to brief sit-down strikes inside the Oshawa assembly plant, and the union even bought an advertisement on the Super Bowl telecast in February 2019 to attack GM’s decision to close the plant. Dias eventually negotiated an agreement that cleared the way for GM to end vehicle production toward the end of 2019, keeping some manufacturing work in the Oshawa complex.
Many GM workers in Oshawa felt the company had reneged on the commitments it made during the previous contract negotiations in 2016. The company said it would continue to use Oshawa to make parts and created a new technology testing track.However, North America’s love of pickups and GM’s skinnied down production footprint left it no choice but to fire up the manufacturing side again, and it’s grown steadily since 2020, including now producing light- and heavy-duty pickups.