Ford Canada will build the new Edge Concept global utility vehicle in Oakville, bringing hope that new jobs will soon follow.
With the Ontario manufacturing sector still suffering from a mass exodus to lower-cost countries, it’s welcome news.
The Edge Concept, currently being showcased at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, will be built at Ford Assembly in Oakville which will supply more than 60 markets around the globe.
The global utility segment, in which the Ford Edge competes, grew by 13 per cent year over year in 2013, the company says.
Some see Ford’s commitment to build the vehicle in Canada as a signal to the world that Canadian manufacturers can compete and succeed in the global market.
Dianne Craig, president and CEO at Ford Motor Company of Canada announced at the Auto Show on Feb. 13 that Ford Assembly in Oakville is ready to give its global customers a high-quality vehicle that meets consumer expectations on performance, fuel efficiency and design.
The commitment to build the new Edge in Oakville gives both management and the plant’s employees a chance to celebrate.
“There was a lot of excitement around the announcement,” said Gary Beck, auto sector chairperson of Unifor and president of Unifor Local 707 in Oakville. “We all new it was coming, but it’s nice to hear it publicly,” he said.
Unifor is the new union recently created through the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union.
Employees from the Oakville plant were at the Auto Show with Dianne Craig when she made the announcement.
Heavy investment by Ford in the Oakville production facility suggests a confidence that the auto industry is back from the dead.
“The new product announcement follows Ford’s $700 million investment in the plant, which secured 2800 jobs, making Oakville Assembly one of the most competitive and advanced global manufacturing facilities in Canada,” said Michelle Lee-Gracey, corporate communications manager at Ford of Canada.
The major investment, announced in September 2013, is part of a trend in the auto industry to move towards “global platforms” where automakers standardize the production of a vehicle to be sold in all international markets.
As the Edge global utility vehicle moves into production, employees and union executives are looking forward to the possibility of new hiring by the firm.
“In the future, they are planning to bring more jobs into the plant through this investment,” Beck said.
Broader community benefits
Oakville’s broader employment is directly affected by jobs at Ford Assembly. Each auto manufacturing job at the plant supports another six or seven jobs in the economy, according to Jerry Dias, president of Unifor.
He made the statement during a press conference at the Oakville plant in September 2013. The current 2,800 jobs at the facility have been secured, and the plant looks set to run for at least another decade, he said.
Dias was unavailable for comment today.
Oakville’s Ford Assembly Plant Timeline
Here is a timeline showing some of the models produced over the past 50 years at Ford’s Oakville assembly plant.
Feature photo credit: TruckTrend.com