History hits the road as electric-vehicle production starts at Cami plant

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INGERSOLL – History was made at Cami Assembly on Monday afternoon as production officially began of Canada’s first fully electric vehicle.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford were there to celebrate the launch of the new BrightDrop cargo vans. Trudeau referred to the start of production as a “milestone” and he paid tribute to the workers at what is now Canada’s first full-fledged electric vehicle (EV) factory.

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“This is a big one,” Trudeau said during his visit to the 1,500-worker plant east of London. “Every government in the world would love to invest billions of dollars in place like this. . . . The best selling point we have is always our workers.”

Cami’s Brightdrop has already been bought by Hertz, Walmart, FedEx, Verizon and Merchants Fleet, a fleet management company in the U.S. Production starts after a more than $1 billion investment by GM. #ldnews #ldnont — Norman De Bono (@NormatLFPress) December 5, 2022

Ford also spoke about the production start as an historic event, calling it an “amazing made-in-Ontario milestone.”

Ford added: “There’s no better place to invest than here in Ontario.”

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He cited $12.5 billion in recent EV-related investment in Ontario, and Cami’s $2-billion restructuring is a big part of that. “These investments will create jobs now and in the future,” Ford said.

The provincial and federal governments each invested $259 million toward GM’s $2-billion plan to transform its Ingersoll plant and overhaul its Oshawa plant to make them EV-ready.

The federal government says the Ingersoll plant is expected to manufacture 50,000 electric vehicles by 2025.

Canada intends to bar the sale of new internal-combustion engines in passenger vehicles by 2035.

GM’s investment to turn Cami into a production hub for the Brightdrop vans has been touted as a move that will stabilize employment there for a decade or more. Cami had long assembled the Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle. But production of that vehicle shifted to Mexico, and union officials have expressed confidence the new electric vehicle will maintain job stability.

There has been just a handful of workers and skilled trades employed in the retooling of the plant. About 700 workers are expected to be recalled this month and the balance of the workforce will return throughout next year.

with files from Canadian Press

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