By on September 21, 2016

2016 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate

Trucks are coming back to Oshawa — kinda.

According to The Globe and Mail, a $400-million investment will fund upgrades necessary for Oshawa to perform final assembly of General Motors pickups using bodies manufactured in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and shipped to Canada.

The report states the investment in Oshawa’s Flex Line will enable it to build the trucks, which includes installing interiors and other tasks much like work performed by Consolidated Line workers to build Chevrolet Equinoxes using bodies provided by CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario.

GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly currently produces regular- and double-cab light- and heavy-duty pickups.

After marathon negotiations earlier this week, Unifor president Jerry Dias praised the deal reached with General Motors, stating, “I am pleased to announce to our members … that we have found a solution for your facilities.” It’s unclear if the solution is needed for sake of pickup demand or a “make-work” project to keep Oshawa open until the next round of labor negotiations, which are planned for 2020.

The Globe and Mail stated sources had earlier said full-size SUV bodies could be shipped from Arlington, Texas, for final assembly, which would have meant a 1,460-mile journey to Oshawa. The bodies coming from Fort Wayne will be shipped just over 400 miles for final assembly.

The new production allotment is a far cry from what Oshawa lost in 2009. In the throes of the recession, General Motors closed its truck plant in Oshawa. GM eventually moved that production to Silao, Mexico, when sales of full-size pickups increased as the economy recovered.

Oshawa has lost other products recently, including the Chevrolet Camaro (production moved to Michigan) and Chevrolet Impala Limited, a previous-generation Impala that went out of production this summer.

In addition to the new pickup line, Oshawa will produce the Cadillac XTS until 2019. General Motors plans to produce the next-generation Buick Regal exclusively in Germany. The current-generation Chevrolet Impala is currently built in Oshawa and Michigan, but demand for full-size sedans is on a downward trend.

[Image: General Motors]

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35 Comments on “Oshawa Will Perform Silverado and Sierra Final Assembly...”

  • avatar

    Wow…..somebody must have “spilled the beans” ….I’ve been asking around for two days, the union , and the company have been real closed mouthed. I used to ship truck body panels to Arlington. We shipped to Buffalo , then cross docked by rail.

  • avatar

    There is a lot more to full size truck than a body / cab. Front end sheet metal, a box , a frame. I think we’re missing a whole lot of details.

  • avatar

    Ah more speculation, so far they are stealing production of the full sized trucks from flint (formally from mexico), sealing Buick envision production from China (I assume for the north American market only), and now just final assembly of the full sized trucks. It will be interesting to learn any real details on sunday at the ratification meeting, and seeing how the rumours line up to reality.

  • avatar

    Oshawa was a great truck plant. My ’90 Cheyenne was an excellent truck and (now under the ownership of the second owner) still running without major problems after all these years and more than 300k miles. I raise a glass to the folks on the Oshawa assembly line and hope they continue their great work.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is disappointing – it really does smell like ‘make-work’. Hauling heavy components all over the place doesn’t make sense to me.

    I guess we’ll know as the next 4 years unfolds. The inevitable downturn in trucks and the overall market could be problematic if this deal begins to make less economic sense in a soft market.

  • avatar

    I hate to see anyone lose their jobs, but at the same time, I’m disappointed that the union has not changed its ways. As long as supporting individual workers at the expense of the employer remains, Detroit automakers will always deal with same competitive disadvantages that drove them to bankruptcy.

    I guess that’s the union’s job (solidarity, not driving OEM’s to Chapter 11), but it’s still short sighted and taking away long term health of the rest of the membership.

    It’s a slippery slope for the union and counter to union principles, I get it, but unfortunately this right here is why union shops close and why unions are in decline. When the labor/management partnership has to be carried out with a gun to the employers head, it’s not a sustainable relationship.

    • 0 avatar

      Your reasoning is sound but mis-guided. It’s sustainable as long as the Federal Government has a checkbook to cover the losses.

      The market spoke, GM and Chyrsler were finished. The folks buying trucks today better lick Obama’s and Bush’s shoes out of appreciation.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      If one relies only upon labour law, the balance of power between the employee and employer sites well in favour of the employer. Add a union and usually the power tends to sit roughly 50/50. That balance obviously shifts back an forth.
      We have seen roll backs/concessions by auto unions so in that respect they have “adjusted” their ways.

      Here is an interesting tidbit from Statistics Canada:

      “One reason for the decline in the unionization rate for young men was the employment shift from industries and occupations with high unionization rates, such as construction and manufacturing, to industries and occupations with lower rates, such as retail trade and professional services. The increase in the unionization rate for older women may be explained by their concentration in industries with a high unionization rate, such as health care and social assistance, education services and public administration.”

      That basically says that unions are in decline because traditionally union jobs are also declining.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @thegamper, could you be more specific?

      Unifor gave GM the requested concessions regarding a two-tier pay rate and switching new hires to a new defined contribution pension rather than the existing defined benefit pension.

      What other concessions would you expect them to make?

    • 0 avatar

      “As long as supporting individual workers at the expense of the employer remains, Detroit automakers will always deal with same competitive disadvantages that drove them to bankruptcy”

      Toyota is unionized in Japan and elsewhere, as is Honda, Nissan, etc. VW is unionized in Europe, and though they’re in trouble, that trouble is management’s doing, not labour.

      The partnership in North America works the way it does because of a long-standing tradition of brinksmanship. Frankly, management owns as much or more of that attitude than labour. You get the union you deserve. The union could be more passive, but why? North American labour relations isn’t a cooperative game.

      You may as well complain that American firms are in decline because quite often, management is in it for their own gain instead of the employers.

  • avatar

    This feels a bit of an exercise in futility, or pandering to the union demands. Doesn’t seem cost effective at all to ship bodies from the US to Canada for final assembly. Yes, the union has saved jobs, some jobs, and the pride of GM, but they’re making it less cost effective for the company. Far less competitive. This will be an even harder ship to save come 2020.

  • avatar

    General Motors plans to produce the next-generation Buick Regal exclusively in Germany.

    Do they then plan on loosing money on each unit built? Zee Germans have factories here in the USA just to lower production costs of popular models. I guess the next Regal will be an also ran as well.

  • avatar

    Globalist and mail aside – I think truck production is headed back to Oshawa. When they built trucks there before they were the highest quality, and while Flint needs as many good paying jobs as they can get, that town may be too far gone. Then again, this might be a “patch” until Trump gets in and gives incentives for them to go back. Never know.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Wow, this kind of stuff can’t be efficient. Someone must be paying (the Canadian taxpayer?)

    I remember back in the 70s here in Australia when our dairy industry is much as the US is now, regulated and controlled.

    This is what occurred. Milk was transported over 1 000km from Victoria to New South Wales and New South Wales milk was transported to Victoria to keep jobs flowing.

    Since the early eighties when Australia freed up its economy and became a free market economy milk has dropped in price, along with cheese and butter.

    We can buy a nice one kilo cheddar for $6AUD or $4.50USD. Milk is 90c AUD per litre or 65cUS a quart. Australia is now a mass exporter of dairy. Why? Because the farmers had to become competitive. The sh!t farmers sold out or went broke, which was good.

    This article highlights what happens with protection of unviable industry.

    The NA auto industry really needs to free up its practices or it will go down big time and the Chinese will end up owning the Big 3.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Yeah, most US automakers don’t build vehicles in this manner…just GM and we have a pretty robust dairy industry as well. I’m not discounting China, but lets be real here, they aren’t the Japanese. When Japan was the big threat to the industry it was quality and fuel efficiency driving people away from US automakers. Chinese products sell on price and the US industry is better positioned. A late 70’s Toyota was in a different Universe quality wise compared to granddad’s Plymouth Volare. It was revolutionary. The Chinese don’t bring that to the table. The best they can do honestly is equal everyone else and sell on price. It is a good strategy that has worked well for Korea, but it will not result in a massive disruption of the market in the manner the Japanese makers were able to do in the malaise era. The market is different and the quality gap no longer exists as it did back then. That last bit may rile some people but even if you don’t feel US cars are as good as imports anyone has to admit they are a heck of a lot closer than in 1978 and one can reasonably expect any make to provide years of trouble free operation.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Big ?, hey why not change your name? Then you might earn some respect from me. Not hard.

        I’m not talking Chinese imports. I’m talking who will buy up the Big Three.

        As for US Dairy. I April 2015 when I was in the States for a few months there was talk of deregulating the dairy industry in the US.

        The farmers jumped up and down and the left leaning types made ridiculous statements that milk was going to cost $7.50 a gallon.

        What I find odd about US news is I see ideas for change and the interest or better still the self interest groups start crying out that an impending disaster will occur if changes are made, ie, the US health and pharmaceutical industry. Or a decent minimum pay.

        Does anyone look at models in other countries that work? It seems not.

        So, with your dairy, the farmers won, at the expense of the public.

        • 0 avatar

          Big Al from Oz – we all can change our names and it isn’t going to change a thing.

          “If one runs across more than 3 a-holes in one day, one needs to look in the mirror to see the a-hole actually is.”

      • 0 avatar

        Doesn’t FCA ship V8 engines from Mexico to Detroit and Brampton, where the Charger, Challenger, and 300 are made? Granted, truck bodies are bulky, but the drivetrains and other materials are sourced closer than Saltillo.

        When Nissan began Altima production in Mexico, they originally sourced engines, transmissions, wiring harnesses, suspension components, and accessories from Japan until they established local supplier production. It may well be that’s what GM is doing at Oshawa, with more plant investment and local supplier production to come.

  • avatar

    Logistically, I don’t see how it could make money or sense to build a vehicle partway in one factory, then ship it 400 miles so another factory can finish assembly. I get that it’s about the bigger picture, some of which involves keeping people employed at Oshawa. But why not just build the entire vehicle, whatever it is, in one factory? It’s not like they have to go the crate knock-down route to avoid the Chicken Tax.

    • 0 avatar

      Me neither. As stated above, there is more to this story. This could be the camel’s nose under the tent.

    • 0 avatar

      Shipping and assembly, final and otherwise, are among the cheapest cost involved in bringing autos to market. They’re inconsequential and those squawking about the chicken tax, put the marginal costs of local (Mexico?) final assembly way above all else involved in importing/federalizing foreign trucks from distant lands.

    • 0 avatar

      Late to the party, but in the case of those trucks, will the VIN show Canada? (Point of final assembly?) That’d be my guess, but I could be wrong.

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