Steve Carlisle Community Update
Our recent GM Canada “Innovation Lives Here” announcement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne gave us a lot to celebrate.
Globally, auto sector transformation is accelerating and we are thrilled that Canada will now have a key role in inventing and engineering an auto future, which is increasingly electric, connected, autonomous and shared. Hiring has already begun as we set out to triple our GM Canada engineering base to approximately 1,000 positions.
We will be investing in our core Canadian Technology Centre in Oshawa, at a new Software Engineering Centre in Markham, our ‘2908 @ Communitech’ hub in Waterloo, our cold weather testing facility in Kapuskasing and a future Urban Mobility Campus in south east Toronto. This new innovation “ecosystem” will also engage important new partners in universities, incubators, suppliers and startups all across Canada. As Mark Reuss, our EVP of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain remarked at the announcement in Oshawa, it is Canada’s confident base of talent, expertise and commitment to innovation that led GM to select Canada for this important work.
So, how did we get here? The team at GM Canada spent the better part of the past year refining our own innovation and software capacity, developing new local technology partnerships, visiting a dozen universities, working with three levels of government and holding innovation days with a new range of suppliers. We pulled all that together to demonstrate that “Innovation Lives Here.” I am extremely proud of our GM Canada team and our new partnerships as we take on the future of auto technology together.
And what did we learn in this effort? I think, above all, we learned that, in Canada, we can’t wait for our stars to align, we have to align our stars.
With our new auto technology cluster emerging in Ontario, it’s now all the more important to redouble our efforts to sustain the traditional mainstay of Canada’s auto sector – auto assembly work. I am sometimes asked if automotive sector transformation and our focus on advanced technology and engineering signals a change for manufacturing in Canada and I always reply no – “It’s not either / or – it’s both.” Both are important. We can invent and assemble. Both generate important jobs in Canada and both require a team effort and constant retraining to succeed.
The partnering approach that helped us win our new innovation mandate is, in my view, the key ingredient that we are taking into industry negotiations between Unifor, FCA, Ford and GM Canada this summer. The manufacturing headwinds that we have all been navigating in North America are well understood – including assembly over-capacity, shifting market demand, trade patterns and economic competitiveness. We have spent many hours working to develop a shared appreciation of the opportunities, challenges and tasks we must take on together if we are to succeed. As much as some would like to simplify that task, there is no one factor that goes into winning auto assembly investments. Each investment is founded upon a complex business case that considers people, plants, policy, partners and competitive economics.
At GM Canada, we have immense pride in the countless accomplishments of our high-quality hourly workers and deep respect for our union partners at Unifor. Our assembly partnerships also extend to our suppliers, communities and government partners as well. We need to keep our eyes on the full horizon and remember that by working together we have won close to $1 billion in new investments in our three GM Canada assembly facilities over the past three years, our pensions are strong and well-funded and we have started to reclaim market share with strong brands and dealer relationships. GM remains committed to doing a strong business in Canada – in terms of sales, assembly and now in new advanced engineering work.
Industry transformation is upon us. There is great opportunity and much to celebrate, but also lots more work ahead to align our stars for the future.