Dec 4, 2018 by Scott Garvey

Shocking news

Last week’s announcement by General Motors that it’s closing the Oshawa assembly plant in Ontario and four others in the U.S. came as a surprise to many. The Ontario plant has been around forever.

This is its history, according to GM: “The General Motors Oshawa Assembly Plant has been building world class vehicles in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada since November 7, 1953. Before 1953, the facility produced McLaughlin Buicks and became one of six locations building Chevrolet before it merged with GM in 1918.”

You have to feel for all those workers getting their pink slips just before Christmas.

The plant was getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary, and GM even sent out a press release in early November with the headline, “Here’s to our next 100 years”, which referred not specifically to the Oshawa plant but the 100 years of GM Canada. On the surface of it, it sounded like a steady-as-she-goes message. That press release, though, did contain what now was clearly an ominous statement, signalling the brand’s intention to move in a new direction long before they announced it.

One of Winnipeg’s public electric vehicle charging stations

“Our vision for the next 100 years,” it read, “starts with our bold “Triple Zero” vision – achieving a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. We want all Canadians to be part of the next 100 years of electric vehicles, self-driving cars and a new world of shared mobility services.”

Those objectives were at the heart of the reasoning for closing Oshawa, according to GM now. It’s GM’s intention to shift a major part of its focus to electric and autonomous vehicle development and production. Apparently, it doesn’t need the Oshawa plant to do that, and the models coming out of there were apparently on a downhill slide in terms of sales. Many industry analysts say they aren’t at all surprised to hear about closures, given the slumping production numbers.

But a lot of people—me included—were a bit surprised to hear that any major brand was at the stage where it was throttling back traditional automotive production in favour of those electric and autonomous adventures. Clearly we’re farther along that path than most people think—at least GM believes we are.

On that note, a walk in the park with my dog this week got me thinking maybe GM’s plans aren’t as off the wall as I thought.

I noticed there was an electric car charging station in the park, and I’d seen a couple of others around the city, but I’ve never actually seen anyone using them, until this week.

There are also several manufacturers set for a commercial launch of electric heavy trucks in the near future as well. So the belief that there will one day be tens of thousands of electric vehicles driving the world’s streets seems far from a pie-in-the-sky idea.

If people in Winnipeg are willing to take a invest in electric vehicles and expect to drive them through our crazy cold winters, a time when battery power is significantly reduced due to the temperatures, then I’m sure brands will have no trouble selling those cars to people in more southerly climes. And clearly, GM thinks so too.

 

Scott

 

 

Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey


Grainews' machinery editor Scott Garvey follows trends and innovation in equipment technology, takes a look at new farm machinery offerings, tracks their performance and goes into the workshop to find better ways to keep them up and running.


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