FCA milestone anniversary marked with $85.8M funding announcement by Ontario premier
By FCA Canada
By FCA Canada
Jun. 20, 2016 – The University of Windsor/FCA Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC) marked its 20th anniversary last week with a special celebration attended by dignitaries, employees, senior executives, media and special guest Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, who made a surprise funding announcement.
A first-of-its-kind Canadian partnership between industry and academia, the ARDC opened in 1996. What started as a $30 million investment has grown to a $1 billion spend on vehicle research and development. The ARDC plays an important role in the product development of nearly every vehicle produced by FCA.
At the event, Wynne announced the Ontario Government will provide up to $85.8 million in funding to FCA Canada to support enhanced research at the ARDC, plus advanced training for the workforce at the Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) and technology enhancements related to the production of the all-new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
“It’s no surprise that Fiat Chrysler chose Ontario for the production of its first-ever minivans using plug-in hybrid technology,” said Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario. “Ontario is a global leader in the auto sector, with competitive business costs, a highly skilled workforce and a commitment to sustainable innovation. We will continue to work with the auto industry, including our partners in Detroit, to support and encourage investment, employment and innovation in the industry.”
This significant investment builds on FCA’s commitment to the province and its “competitive advantages in Ontario, namely a high-quality workforce and innovative R&D.”
“In the last 18 months, FCA has invested in excess of $2 billion and added over 1,200 new jobs for the benefit of our Canadian operations,” said Reid Bigland, president and CEO, FCA Canada. “We are grateful for the support of the Ontario government and appreciate our strong working relationship. We are proud of our world-class workforce, the new research capabilities of the ARDC and the exciting new Chrysler Pacifica.”
Today, the ARDC employs 180 people and covers 93,000 square metres in its Windsor facility near WAP and within close proximity to the U.S. border. The facility performs “rigorous testing that includes millions of kilometres of road test simulation, extreme weather testing, corrosion control and precision night-time headlight testing, to name a few.”
In addition to design and engineering, the ARDC works with various universities in Ontario, such as McMaster, Waterloo and Windsor, conducting research on critical challenges for the industry, including advance powertrains and light-weighting. Results from these efforts can be found in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
“Collaboration between academia and industry is at the heart of innovative clusters around the world,” said Alan Wildeman, president and vice-chancellor, University of Windsor. “The University of Windsor is proud of its 20-year partnership with FCA Canada in ARDC, the country’s largest automotive research centre. As at every university and college in Ontario, we have researchers and creative minds that want to bring solutions to the challenges and opportunities that our province’s industries are navigating. We are very grateful to the many ways in which the province is supporting that goal.”