GM’s announcement that it would move Camaro production out of Oshawa has left one of GM’s best plants in a lurch, and the CAW says that the plant’s very survival is at stake.
Moving the Camaro to GM’s Lansing, Michigan plant makes sense; the Camaro is the sole rear-drive product built at Oshawa, while the Cadillac CTS and ATS are not only built in Lansing, but expected to share a platform with the Camaro in the coming years. But that’s raised questions about what GM will do to keep Oshawa going. Speaking to The Globe and Mail, CAW President Ken Lewenza expressed concerns regarding a possible slow decline for the plant
“A fully utilized plant today is on three shifts,” he said. “If this 100,000 units drops it to two shifts – which I anticipate it does – without any replacement vehicles, then the next move is one shift and [then] gone.”
The Camaro move will not only affect Oshawa, but also GM’s engine plant in St. Catharines, Ontario and a Johnson Controls plant in nearby Whitby. Both plants are nearly entirely dependent on the Camaro and will likely have to close following its departure. Lewenza claimed that during this summer’s negotiations, GM gave no notice that they planned to move the Camaro out of Oshawa. Without it, Oshawa will be left with the Cadillac XTS Buick Regal and the Chevrolet Impala
Complicating matters is the Canadian government’s reluctance to sell their stake in GM. While officials have previously stated that they don’t plan to hang on to their shares for the long term, there’s still the pesky matter of Canada’s $13.7 billion bailout package to GM. As part of the agreement, 16 percent of GM’s production must come from Canada, but it looks like the continued production of the previous generation Impala should help satisfy the requirements until June, 2014. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. GM recently invested $185 million into the facility, but the figure pales in comparison to the billions it has received from the Canadian government.