Editorial: The Game Changer That Never Was

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

For months, news of new investment at Ford’s two engine plants in Windsor, Ontario has been making the rounds. The supposed story was that Windsor would get a new family of small, fuel-efficient engines, and possibly even hybrid powertrains. The (wishful) thinking was that the profitable assembly of these powertrains might lead to small car production in Canada.

This past week, it emerged that Windsor would not get the new engine family, which would apparently have led to the creation of 1,000 direct jobs and as many as as 9,000 indirect jobs. Both Ford of Canada and the Ontario and Canadian federal governments could not agree on how large of a subsidy would have to be given out to bring the engine assembly to Ontario.

In the aftermath, new details are emerging. For starters, the investment was slated to go to Mexico (where small cars like the Fiesta are built), and Unifor, Canada’s auto worker union, tried to “steal the program”. Unifor’s Jerry Dias noted that the engines are destined for assembly plants in Mexico and there was a “heavy ask” from Ford in terms of subsidies.

This makes perfect sense: small cars are notoriously unprofitable, and building their powertrains in a high-cost jurisdiction makes little sense. Ford is rumored to be moving production of the Fiesta to Thailand, since Mexican assembly isn’t leading to a profitable North American-spec Fiesta. The idea of Canadian production of the Fiesta, or another small car, is a bit of a pipe dream.

On the other hand, all is not lost for Canadian manufacturing. Ford recently committed to building the next-generation Edge at their Oakville Assembly Complex, which means an additional 1,000 jobs. And the Windsor plants are currently building large V8 engines for Ford’s popular pickup trucks. Some outlets have suggested that the left-leaning Ontario government was interested in the smaller engines, since it sees fuel efficient small cars as the way of the future. But the sales data and consumer appetite for big pickups on both sides of the 49th Parallel suggest that Windsor’s current product portfolio – the 5.0L Coyote V8 and other larger engines – is the right one for current market conditions.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Oct 29, 2014

    DeadWeight - agreed. I noticed 2 posts I made that vanished (one for 2 days) has now appeared.

  • Peter s badenoch Peter s badenoch on Jul 28, 2015

    I'm arriving late at this party but would just like to set the historical record straight. In his comment on the October 2014 editorial, "The Game Changer That Never Was", Arthur Dailey mentions the Rootes Motors (Canada) facility in Scarborough, Ontario, at the S.W. corner of Warden and Eglinton East, as having being used to build units from CKD (i.e. completely-knocked-down) components. This was never the case. The building was large, but from its official opening in 1952, through to when Rootes operations ceased there, around 1967, it was never used for building vehicles. At the time of the 1952 opening, Rootes claimed that it was the largest vehicle showroom in North America -- the Rootes brothers were always strong on marketing flair -- this being the core of a retail sales operation. Also at the front of the building -- west end -- were the national offices for Rootes Canada operations. Behind -- east end, entrance off Warden Ave, was the retail service department. At the rear, west end, was a train bay (connected to a spur line) where vehicle came in by rail from Halifax and/or Montreal; minor operations such as installation of seat belts were handled in the train bay. The rest of the rear of the building, mostly west end, was occupied by the national parts department(there were also satellite parts depots,and sales offices, in Montreal and Vancouver). But never any vehicle assembly. Information source? Myself. I was with Rootes Canada from 1962 to 1969, working out of that building until, as part of the Chrysler take-over, it was disposed of and operations moved out -- for only two or so years -- to a building in Pickering. Like your site. psb

  • 3-On-The-Tree To say your people are total monsters is an unfair statement. You can judge the Japanese government but to say the citizens are culpable or responsible is wrong. That’s like saying every Caucasian person in the U.S is responsible for slavery or the civil rights era of violence and discrimination against African Americans and are benefiting from it. That’s 79 years ago, the average Japanese citizen born during WWII has nothing to do with what happened. Even my Japanese grandmother who was living in Yokohama whose home was firebombed was just trying to survive with 3 kids and a husband fighting in the war. Just like every war the citizens suffer, I saw it in Iraq. You can’t judge the people from the misdeeds of their government, my mom was born after the war, you really think she is responsible for what happened?
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