Newly ratified deal gives Ontario workers a bigger bite of EV manufacturing, with GM to invest $1 billion to transform its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont. Deliveries to start in late 2021
Workers at the CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a deal that will see General Motors invest $1 billion to turn the facility into Canada’s first large-scale auto plant for electric delivery vehicles.
The ratification comes after an announcement Friday night that GM and the union representing CAMI’s 1,900 workers, Unifor, had reached a tentative agreement to start producing the company’s “first-to-last-mile” electric light commercial vehicle, the EV600, at the Ontario plant.
The result of the workers’ vote, released Monday, leaves only “confirmation of government support” to make it official, according to GM.
New business for commercial customers
The EV600 is slated to be the second product released under GM’s new banner, BrightDrop. According to the manufacturer, Brightdrop will offer integrated electric solutions, including software and services, to delivery and logistics companies. FedEx Express has signed up to be its first customer.
Work to convert the Ingersoll assembly plant to EV production will begin immediately per Unifor. The plant currently produces the Chevrolet Equinox, which is being phased out in 2023. GM says it expects to deliver the first of its electric delivery vans to customers by the end of the year.
The BrightDrop EV600 is a purpose-built commercial electric vehicle for delivery of goods and services over long ranges, says GM. Powered by GM’s new Ultium battery system, it can travel up to 400 kilometres on a full charge and has a slew of baked-in safety features like forward collision alert, a rear vision camera and a cargo area security system.
After the vote was announced, Scott Bell, president and managing director at General Motors of Canada, posted a statement on LinkedIn that shed some light on the behind-the-scenes activity leading up to the announcement.
“GM Canada engineers were instrumental in the early stages of ideation and testing of this solution for the delivery industry,” Bell wrote. “Just three days after GM’s unveil of this new business, we identified Canada as the manufacturing home for the EV600.”
Its been a 180 turnaround for GM Canada at a time when GM sees we are at an inflection point in the shift to #electric vehicles with 30 EVs coming soon. #BrightDrop is the latest news and we are proud to make #EV600 here in Canada. pic.twitter.com/gxzWLKOWdO— GM Canada (@GMcanada) January 18, 2021
EV investments soar in Ontario
The GM news is the third EV allotment announced in Ontario since the fall.
In October, Fiat Chrysler said it would invest $1.5 billion in the Windsor Assembly Plant to produce a plugin-in hybrid and/or battery-powered vehicle by 2024.
In September, Ford committed almost $2 billion towards building five new electric vehicles at its Oakville plant, which also received $590 million from the provincial and federal governments to help with facility upgrades.
That’s over $5 billion in cash for electric vehicle production in Ontario in the past six months alone.
“To achieve this level of commitment for auto manufacturing shows what can happen when we have a collective vision to secure this sector and create good jobs for Canadians,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president.
“While the process was complicated by COVID-19, we refused to let a pandemic impede our progress to find ‘made in Canada’ solutions.”