From the editor: Auto strength in Canada
By Alyssa Dalton
Jun. 20, 2017 – According to Brendan Sweeney, growth is the one word that can be used to sum up the findings of a recent report that examines the stability of the overall Canadian vehicle production and auto industry employment over the last five years.
Sweeney is the author of A Profile of Canada’s Automotive Manufacturing Industry 2012-2016 and project manager of The Automotive Policy Research Centre, headquartered at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. He notes that employment in vehicle assembly and automotive parts manufacturing grew every year to 140,404 in 2016, signifying an increase of 14,704 people, while annual vehicle production aver-aged just below 2.4 million units over the past five years. The report finds the increase in employment and slight decrease in vehicle production is due partly to a shift away from the production of passenger cars and towards light trucks, which require more person-hours to assemble, and to a shift towards higher value-added vehicles.
It’s interesting to note the FCA Windsor minivan plant, which employs more than 6,000 people, as well as Ford Oakville and Toyota Cambridge are among the six largest manufacturers in Canada by employment, according to the report. It also estimates roughly two-thirds of all vehicles produced in Canada include medium-sized SUVs, such as Toyota RAV4, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox as well as Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
“This proportion is likely to increase in the near future as Toyota replaces Corolla production with the RAV4 at its assembly plant in Cambridge and as GM begins to assemble pickup trucks in Oshawa,” Sweeney said. “As well as the ongoing economic recovery in Canada and the United States, the auto industry has benefited from recent investment announcements stemming from contract negotiations between Unifor and Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. Also, the federal and Ontario governments have implemented and refined several public policy tools to support investment in traditional manufacturing and emerging vehicle technologies.”
In order for Canada’s automotive industry to continue growing, Sweeney believes it must expand its existing footprint. “If we’re going to grow, we need to build more plants,” he stressed.
And just about a month before the report was published, Ford of Canada, along with the federal and provincial governments, announced a $1.2-billion investment in its Windsor operations with others in Ottawa, Waterloo and Oakville, creating and maintaining 800 jobs.
We must all invest in growth initiatives in order to remain competitive. Now is the time to invest in innovation, people and automation.
This column was originally published in the June 2017 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.