GM to build commercial EV van in Canada

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit  General Motors Co. and the Canadian auto union Unifor Local 88 have reached a tentative agreement for the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ontario to build a commercial electric delivery van. 

If the deal is ratified by the 1,900 Local 88 members, CAMI would become the fourth electric vehicle plant for GM in North America. GM would invest $800 million in CAMI to build the EV600 van, which GM's new business entity BrightDrop just showcased this week at the virtual Consumer Electronics Show. 

GM’s new business BrightDrop has created the EV600, an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges.

“This tentative deal delivers significant investment, new products, new jobs, and job security, achieving our union’s key bargaining priorities during these challenging times,” Jerry Dias, Unifor's national president, said in a statement.

BrightDrop, a new GM startup that aims to help logistics and delivery customers, and the EV600 are part of GM's aggressive push to become known as an EV automaker. Its plan is to have 30 electric entries globally by 2025. 

Beyond the EV600, BrightDrop also has developed the EP1, an electric pallet that GM says can move product over short distances. 

CAMI currently builds the Chevrolet Equinox, which is also assembled in Mexico. GM's investment will transform work at the plant in the next two years from Equinox assembly to production of EV600s. Work is to begin immediately to transform the CAMI plant.

Unifor Local 88 members will meet to hear more details of the tentative agreement with GM and vote on it Sunday. Results of the ratification vote will be released Monday.

Last fall, GM negotiated a new contract with Unifor that included a $1.03 billion investment at the Oshawa Assembly plant to build trucks starting next year.

CAMI Assembly falls under a different contract that wasn't set to expire until September 2021, but GM and the union moved up contract talks to the start of the year for a new deal. 

The first 500 EV600s are scheduled to be delivered to BrightDrop's first customer, FedEx Express, by late 2021. The van will be available to more customers in 2022.

GM's new Ultium battery technology will be used on the EV600, marking its debut in the commercial market. The van has an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge.

Twitter: @bykaleahall