GM announced a $250 million dollar investment for the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontaro. CAMI is the main production site for the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain (also known as the Theta crossovers), two of GM’s best selling models, and the investment comes amid uncertainty over the fate of CAMI itself.
Earlier in the year, CAMI was one of three sites being considered for production of the next generation Terrain and Equinox, along with GM’s former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee and a site in Mexico. In its current state, CAMI is running beyond maximum capacity, with overflow being sent to GM’s Oshawa, Ontario plant as well as Spring Hill. Both Spring Hill and Mexico were being considered due to the lower costs; Tennessee is staffed mainly by new hires who are paid wages roughly half that of most UAW workers, while Mexico’s costs are substantially lower than in Canada or the United States.
While GM ultimately decided to invest the $250 million in CAMI, there is no official word on whether it will build the crossovers. A GM press release described the investment as being earmarked for a flexible assembly line, similar to the one utilized in Oshawa. A flex line is capable of building any number of vehicles on one assembly line. While crossovers make up 40 percent of Canada’s light vehicle exports, this opens the door for CAMI to produce almost anything in GM’s lineup.
On the other hand, there are a few factors that could pop up at a later date. CAMI could see Theta production migrate elsewhere, as GM attempts to increase the profitability of these vehicles, which sold over 300,000 units combined in 2012. Another issue is possible job losses associated with increased robotization, something the Canadian Auto Workers union is well aware of. And finally, the CAMI investment raises further questions about the future of Oshawa, which has slowly seen its product migrate back to American plants.