GM takes rapid path to retool Canadian plants

“Anything we can do to get this product up and running sooner rather than later has always been on our minds,” GM Canada President Scott Bell told Automotive News Canada in May. “Right now, we need what we [build] in Oshawa, and we need it fast.”

Just as it is doing at CAMI, GM is shipping equipment and machinery from Michigan to Oshawa. But COVID-19-related U.S.-Canada border closures forced the automaker to get creative to meet its production timelines, Bell said.

“We’re building replicas of the plant and the body shop in Detroit and shipping parts across the border and reassembling them here,” he said. “There’s a lot of activity that’s all new to this group, but I would say a combination of our experts in Detroit, as well as the folks on the ground here in Oshawa, are really coming together to make this happen.”

The investment commitments to the plants and GM’s product plans are good news for CAMI’s 1,500 hourly workers, said Mike Van Boekel, chairman of CAMI’s union, Unifor Local 88.

CAMI currently builds the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, which is also assembled at factories in Mexico. But the Canadian plant line has been halted for large portions of the year because of the microchip shortage.

GM plans to begin mass EV600 production at CAMI on one shift in November 2022, increasing that to two shifts in 2023 and, potentially, three in 2024, depending on market conditions.

“It’s great for job stability,” Van Boekel said. “It’s just that the next year and a half is going to be a bit of a rough speed bump” until the investment is complete.

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