GM expected to build Chevy Silverado at Oshawa plant
General Motors Co. is expected to bring Chevrolet Silverado work to the Oshawa Assembly Plant as part of its new tentative four-year agreement with the Canadian auto union, according to a source familiar with the plans.
The Silverado could be in the plant around 2018, with some volume moving from GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly Plant, the source said, asking to remain unidentified because the plans have not been shared publicly.
A GM spokesman declined comment on the Silverado being the product for Oshawa, but did not dispute the plans.
Unifor President Jerry Dias said early Tuesday that the Oshawa plant would be the first in North America capable of building both cars and trucks. He declined to name the vehicle during an interview later in the day with The Detroit News.
The Silverado would be assembled along with a car in Oshawa, the source said.
GM will spend about CA$400 million to upgrade the flex line inside the plant, which currently builds the Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS and Buick Regal. A consolidated line at Oshawa, which builds the Chevy Equinox, is slated to end production sometime next year. Currently, Oshawa workers finish building Equinox bodies sent from the nearby CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.
Oshawa Assembly employs about 2,400 hourly workers today, down significantly from the 10,000-plus it employed a decade ago.
Oshawa previously built the Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. GM shuttered the Oshawa Truck plant in 2009 because of slowing truck sales due to high gasoline prices and the financial crisis. During bargaining with the union then known as the Canadian Auto Workers in early 2008, GM promised to bring more product for the truck plant; a few weeks later it angered workers by opting to close the plant, Unifor Local 222 President Colin James said in a July interview. The truck plant had operated for more than four decades. A few thousand workers lost their jobs.
GM currently builds the Silverado and Sierra at its Flint Assembly Plant; Fort Wayne Assembly in Roanoke, Indiana; and at a plant in Silao, Mexico. Some analysts expect the next-generation Silverado and Sierra pickups could come out in late 2018 as 2019 models.
The Globe and Mail newspaper earlier reported the new vehicles slated to come to the plant would be SUVs. The report said Oshawa workers would install interiors on unfinished SUVs from GM’s Arlington Assembly Plant — some 1,400 miles away. On Wednesday, it reported instead that GM would perform final assembly work on pickup trucks that would be sent from Fort Wayne, about 435 miles from Oshawa.
GM is putting billions of dollars in investments into the Fort Wayne and Flint plants, likely to ready them for next-generation pickup work that is expected to include additional use of aluminum.
It’s not clear if truck production in Oshawa would be light-duty or heavy-duty variants. Some analysts are predicting GM will shuffle some production between its three truck plants, possibly moving heavy-duty production to Mexico.
Trucks are hot sellers amid low gasoline prices today. The Silverado is Chevy’s best selling nameplate in the U.S., with sales totaling more than 380,000 through August this year.
The Globe and Mail says XTS production at Oshawa also would be extended, citing unnamed sources. Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen recently said the large XTS sedan would get a major refresh. Previously analysts said the last product slated for Oshawa was scheduled to end around 2019.
Nearly 3,900 GM Unifor members are slated to vote Sunday whether to ratify a four-year deal with the automaker. The deal, which averted a strike, also includes more than $120 million in investment at GM’s St. Catharines Propulsion plant, wage increases, a signing bonus and converting about 700 temporary workers to full-time status.