Canada Contributing $447 Million Toward Ford Plant Upgrades

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With Ford and Unifor having agreed to a new three-year contract last month, Oakville Assembly (which currently manufacturers the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus) is slated to be retooled to manufacturer electric vehicles and their batteries. While the first example wouldn’t roll off the assembly line until 2026, according to the agreement, Canada is excited about the prospect of green jobs. In fact, the Canadian government has committed itself to an ambitious program aimed at boosting electric vehicle sales in order to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We’re always suspect of central planning, as regulatory changes often have unintended consequences for the associated industries, but need to praise Canada for actually putting some money where its mouth is. Barring a mishap in 2023, the nation has promised to contribute $447 million (split evenly between the Ontario and federal governments) toward Ford’s 1.4-billion program to convert the facility.

Unifor seems pleased enough. President Jerry Dias has repeatedly said the union would need substantial and consistent support from the Canadian government if the nation expects to remain a major manufacturing hub — especially as the industry seems bent on transitioning toward EVs. While that has not been reflected in consumer behaviors, the industry itself has invested more than enough money into electrification and numerous markets are regulating the industry to ensure this happens. They’re poised for a change, regardless of what the markets want to do.

“Both governments understand where the industry is heading. You either get on board now or get lost in the shuffle,” Dias said in an interview with Automotive News Canada. “They understand this is a pivotal time for the industry.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in Thursday’s event announcing the government-backed funding via the internet, saying this would be the first of many steps toward a ” next-generation auto industry.”

“Today’s investment from Ford Canada is historic. It will ensure our province continues to lead North America and the world in automotive manufacturing and innovation, while boosting our competitiveness in this key sector,” Trudeau continued.

Based on the updated contract agreement, Oakville intends on continuing the production of the Edge and Nautilus until 2023. Originally, Blue Oval had no future plans for the facility (a historic building manufacturing Ford products since 1953) and looked to be shuttering it once production wrapped on the current batch of middleweight crossovers. But the agreement with Unifor has effectively breathed new life into the site, with a few very important stipulations.

Retooling the factory and getting those government investments comes after the latest contract expires. That means this whole deal could fall apart long before Oakville gets its upgrade and the issue will undoubtedly come up in union negotiations slated for 2023. For now, Ford seems happy enough to play along and we doubt the Canadian government offering to foot a significant portion of the bill is going to endanger that position.

“With the support of the federal and provincial government, Ford of Canada is investing in the future of its Ontario-based operations, solidifying its commitment to providing thousands of well-paying jobs in Ontario and becoming the first automaker in the country to build full battery-electric vehicles while delivering operational improvements that will maximize production flexibility to ensure we remain operationally competitive,” Ford Canada CEO Dean Stoneley said in a statement.

[Image: JL IMAGES/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Oct 09, 2020

    Corporate welfare simply trains the bear to keep returning to your campsite for food.

    • Pig_Iron Pig_Iron on Oct 09, 2020

      I remember when their last prime minister gave a big payout to GM. He even famously did a photo op in the cab of a GM locomotive. How'd that work out? This will be another boondoggle.

  • Thegamper Thegamper on Oct 12, 2020

    It could possibly be the powerhouse. I dont see any stacks, but industrial boilers are huge, multistory units. There are also ovens used to treat metal parts that need significant height clearance and perhaps would also need a gantry crane for maintenance. Just a thought but who really knows....Maybe the workers come to the cube to regenerate.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
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