Sunday, June 13, 2021
News How Ford's Oakville Plant Went from Rumours of Closure to Marked for...

How Ford’s Oakville Plant Went from Rumours of Closure to Marked for Electrics

The story of snagging Ford EV investment for Canada

  • Plan started with breaking rumours of plant closure

  • Ended with Ford planning to bring four EVs to Canada


How did the story of Ford‘s Oakville assembly plant go from reports of closures to four new electric vehicles starting in 2024? Automotive News brings the story of the saving of the plant.

It started when Unifor National President Jerry Dias heard the news of the closure rumours and didn’t get a denial from executives with the automaker. Dias went to the feds, calling up economic development minister Navdeep Bains and saying “‘get on the phone and call all three of the Detroit 3 and say that you’ve got the money to invest’ in new product,” AN reports.

It turned into a focus of the contract negotiations between Ford and Unifor, involving a reversal by new company CEO Jim Farley, who decided to move the investment from Mexico to Oakville, instead of the original plan, and made the start of a season of wins for the Canadian auto industry.

“This is exactly the kind of investment we’ve been looking for for years,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade, said in the report.

The early leak meant more time, and Dias said that more time made it possible to get government help and automaker buy-in, and help save the jobs at the plant that currently produces the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus crossovers.

It was the first investment in the country by a major automaker to build EVs here, which could greatly help government plans to make Canada’s roads more electric. While Toyota and FCA have built hybrid models here, it didn’t represent the same level of commitment.

The story involves industry executives, union officials, and government officials at the highest levels, working together to benefit the Canadian auto sector and bring green to red. The move also explains why Ford was picked first for Unifor negotiations this year: they were the one that had already shown they would consider Canadian investment.

 

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