Scott Bell, president and managing director of GM Canada , told Automotive News this week that renovation work at GM Oshawa Assembly has already begun and the plant is on-pace to undergo one of the fastest facility transformations in the company’s history.
GM Canada and Candian labor union Unifor reached a new contract agreement earlier this month that will see the automaker invest between $1 billion and $1.3 billion CAD in GM Oshawa Assembly to begin producing light- and heavy-duty versions of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks there. The investment will go toward the construction of a new body shop and flexible assembly module at the sprawling Ontario plant, along with some other miscellaneous line upgrades.
Bell said the plan to produce pickups at Oshawa Assembly has been in the works for some time now and said GM has long-term plans for the facility, which was shut down in 2019 after the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS were discontinued.
“Construction has already started. This is not something we dreamed up a few weeks ago,” Bell told AN. “This is has been going on for quite some time. This is a full-blown investment. This is building a body shop. This is unique in a sense we’re building our bodies. We’re serious about having this flexibility and capacity for quite some time here. That’s where the billion-plus (investment figure) comes from.”
Oshawa Assembly is GM’s third pickup truck production plant, joining Flint Assembly in Michigan and Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana. The Flint plant builds the Chevy Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD, while Fort Wayne handles production of the light duty versions of the two pickups. The Oshawa Assembly plant is unique in that it will build the Silverado HD and Sierra HD alongside the light duty versions of the trucks.
“Showrooms are sitting at less than 50% of what they would like to be,” Unifor leader Jerry Dias said earlier this month. “The pandemic has thrown a curve into the auto industry, so (GM is) looking for opportunities to maximize the (production) capacity.”
GM Canada has not said how many jobs it expects the Oshawa Assembly investment to help create, although Unifor has said it expects every one job at the plant to help create an additional seven supplier jobs elsewhere in the country. GM Canada has also already begun recruiting for various leadership positions at the plant, which is expected to begin producing trucks in early 2022.