Ontario’s automotive assembly plants have increased production, but still face stiff competition for platforms, jobs
August 15, 2012
More than just bragging rights are on the line for the province's assemblers, and recent good news should help momentum keep building.
While the province’s automotive production numbers for 2011 showed a slight increase over 2010, questions have arisen about Ontario’s continued status as the top production jurisdiction in Canada and the U.S. Last year’s 20 percent output surge by second-place Michigan narrowed the province’s lead considerably. Michigan last outpaced Ontario’s vehicle production performance in 2003.
While these two jurisdictions battle it out, the clear North American champion actually comes from south of south of the border.
With a 15.7 percent gain over its already-leading 2010 production numbers, Mexico is the clear winner over Michigan and Ontario.
New vehicles like Ford’s Fiesta® subcompact car and Volkswagen’s Jetta® compact have proven popular in the value-driven North American market and have moved Mexico production totals past Ontario’s for the fourth consecutive year.
More than just bragging rights are on the line for the province’s assemblers and recent good news should help momentum keep building.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC) recently announced it will invest more than $100 million and hire approximately 400 employees to increase Lexus® RX production at its Cambridge, Ont., facility. Capacity will increase by 30,000 vehicles to 104,000 units, including 15,000 RX450h vehicles, the hybrid/electric version of this SUV. This increase will move Toyota’s annual production capacity in Canada to 500,000 units.
This is the second investment for the company’s Canadian manufacturing operation this year. In March it was announced that $80 million would be invested in the Woodstock, Ont., plant. Direct job creation in Canada this year is now 800, for a total of 7,300.
“For almost nine years now, Canada has had the only Lexus production outside of Japan,” said TMMC Chairman Ray Tanguay. “New jobs, along with new technology, is great news for Canada.”
Toyota is targeting early 2014 for the expanded Lexus production.
In 2011 the governments of Canada and Ontario partnered with the manufacturer to grow its manufacturing footprint in Canada and encourage the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and we are pleased to see Toyota expanding production at its Cambridge facility,” said Christian Paradis, minister of industry. “Canada is a great place to build vehicles, and we will continue to encourage investment by providing tax relief; eliminating tariffs on machinery and equipment; and creating an environment that promotes innovation, research, and development.”
General Motors of Canada will invest $850 million in R&D activities in Canada before the end of 2016.
“GM has long been a Canadian technology and innovation leader, and these additional investments will build our expertise in strategic and important technologies even further,” said Kevin W. Williams, president and managing director, GM Canada. “Since 2009 alone, employees at our Canadian Engineering Centre have generated nearly 100 records of invention, which allow us to offer better solutions for our customers, helping GM to design, build, and sell the world’s best vehicles.”
Since 2009 GM has increased its investments in R&D and engineering in Canada, including growing activities at the Canadian Engineering Centre in Oshawa, Ont. The company will expand research activities in light-weighting materials, mechatronics, software, and communications.
“General Motors of Canada has made great strides since 2009 when our government pledged its support to help it restructure. We are encouraged that, thanks in part to that support, GM is now making important investments in the future of the auto sector and manufacturing in Canada,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “Such investments in R&D bring long-term benefits to Canada, driving made-in-Canada innovation, increasing our ability to compete internationally, and creating high-paying, stable jobs.”
Production of the new Honda CR-V® began in January at the company’s Alliston, Ont., facility. With the addition of this platform, the automaker’s two best-selling vehicles — the Civic® and CR-V — are now being made in Canada.
“The Honda CR-V has set the gold standard in the compact SUV segment and has been embraced by Canadians since it arrived here in 1997,” said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president, Honda Canada. “We’re proud that the all-new 2012 CR-V will be Canadian built.”
In November 2011 the company celebrated 25 years of manufacturing in Canada. Since 1987 Honda has built close to 6 million vehicles and invested more than $2.6 billion in Canada. The company also purchases more than $1.1 billion in goods from Canadian suppliers every year.
“The inauguration of Honda’s new CR-V at the Alliston plant in Ontario signals the strength of the auto sector in Ontario, new momentum for Honda, and demonstrates confidence in the province’s economy,” said Brad Duguid, minister of economic development and innovation. “This move helps secure our position as a top auto manufacturing hub in North America and protect valuable sector jobs.”
Chrysler Canada will invest $100,000 in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation at the University of Windsor.
“This investment in Canadian higher education further signals our strong commitment to ensure engineering students are well-prepared for the integral role they will play in society,” said Reid Bigland, president and CEO, Chrysler Canada. “Science and technology is the lifeblood of our future. Working with the University of Windsor, we will develop creative thinkers who will serve as the engine of innovation for generations to come.”
The Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation will become the new home of the engineering faculty when it opens this September. Spanning 300,000 sq. ft., it will not only increase the size and scope of the university’s engineering facilities, but it will set a new standard for teaching and learning with state-of-the-art technology to dramatically enhance the experience of students and faculty alike, says the university. It will offer more than 80 teaching and research labs.
Chrysler Canada has already invested more than $500 million in operating and capital for the University of Windsor/Chrysler Canada Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC), which was established in 1996.
The ARDC has provided placements to more than 300 undergraduate engineering co-op students, giving them relevant industry experience while working on advanced R&D issues that enhance, and in some cases, contribute directly to their graduate studies.
Ford Motor Company of Canada continues to lead the marketplace in year-to-date sales, most likely powered by the Ford Fiesta®, which had its best month ever with a 16 percent increase. June also showed strong demand for the Oakville-built Edge® and Flex® CUVs, which had sales increases of 22 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
“June was a strong month for our popular crossovers, both Ford and Lincoln,” said Dianne Craig, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. “People really appreciate the combination of utility, fuel economy, and smart technology.”
Positive results from the Lincoln lineup include MKX® with a 16 percent increase; MKT® with a 12 percent increase; and Navigator®, which is up 26 percent.
“When you think about the unprecedented impact of the tsunami this time last year, the industry is showing a solid recovery,” said Craig.