Strong demand for GM trucks sees a return to Oshawa plant.
Back in 2018, General Motors announced that as part of a cost-saving plan in response to a decline in the sales of sedans, the company would be shutting down several plants, including its Oshawa, Ontario plant in Canada. It was a move that affected around 2,500 employees at the time.
Two years later, in a sign of changing market conditions, GM will be reopening operations at the same plant with a plan to invest over $1 billion (Canadian). The announcement came earlier this week, confirming an agreement with Canada's autoworkers union, Unifor, a move driven by the success of GM pickups like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
The Oshawa plant currently produces hoods, doors, tailgates, and even face masks, requiring in the region of 300 workers, a far cry from the 2,500 employees when cars were being produced there. About 1,400 - 1,700 hourly workers will be required once the plant returns to full steam, with the production of the pickups slated to begin in January 2022.
As in the US market, pickups are a vitally important segment for GM in Canada. Although the Silverado is still selling strongly in the US, it may once again be overtaken by the Ram 1500 as the second-best-selling truck in the country, which is what Ram achieved in 2020.
Still, the Oshawa plant news came as a big victory for Unifor National President Jerry Dias. According to The Detroit Free Press, Dias described the 2018 shutdown as "devastating" for the Oshawa community. This year, he was far more upbeat, saying that "we will be a complete assembly operation again."
It's a happy ending considering that it wasn't too long ago that Unifor battled GM to save the Oshawa Assembly plant, a period that included protests at GM's own Canada HQ. Two of the most recent GM models to roll off the production line in Oshawa were the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala late in 2019.