New York — Ford Motor Company of Canada has announced an investment of C$1.8 billion ($1.35 billion) to become the first carmaker to manufacture full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in Canada.
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It said Sept. 28 that it was committed to converting its Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario from an internal combustion engine site to include a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor engine plant.
The carmaker said the investment decision was part of its agreement with Canada's largest private-sector union Unifor to ratify a three-year labor contract, which allowed for operational improvements that should maximize production flexibility through alternative work schedules.
It said the new labor agreement also included an enhanced temporary employee program, a 2.5% wage increase twice over the three-year period, a ratification bonus for full-time employees, and a reduced grow-in period for new hires.
Unifor has been known to promote the benefits of bringing EV manufacturing to Canada, urging carmakers to make the move and calling for the government to push for more EV production and sales in the country.
In a June report, the union called for the government to accelerate the conversion of ICE vehicles to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by providing financial support and tax credits to firms engaged in the manufacture of EVs, including final assembly and the production of EV component parts in Canada.
According to the Government of Canada, as of December 2018, there were five companies manufacturing cars in Canada, namely Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota, with some plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEV) manufactured, but no full BEVs.
Ford of Canada CEO Dean Stoneley said the introduction of BEV production at the Oakville Assembly Complex meant the company was "cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing."
Since May 2019, Transport Canada has offered a point of sale incentive of C$5,000 for consumers who buy or lease a BEVs.
However, research from by Dunsky Energy Consulting commissioned by Transport Canada and released earlier in September, found that there was a lack of availability of EVs to meet demand, as well as long waiting times for buyers looking to purchase EVs.
According to Electric Mobility Canada, Q2 sales of ZEVs, which include BEVs, PHEVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, dropped 50% year on year to 9,069 units, with EVs overall share of the light vehicle market down to 2.9% from 3.4% in Q2 2019.
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