Thursday, November 29, 2018

Why GM's Oshawa closing is perhaps not that big a deal

General Motors' plan to close their Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant and lay off nearly 3,000 employees has been receiving blanket coverage in the Canadian press recently. And, yes, it is an important and unexpected announcement (and I am just waiting for the backlash against electric vehicles - GM's purported reason for the plant closure, despite the fact that it will actually continue to produce gas-guzzling pick-up trucks and SUVs as well - which will surely not be far behind).
I am glad, though, that Barrie McKenna tried to put things in perspective a bit in today's Globe and Mail. As Mr. McKenna points out, the GM Oshawa plant is actually the smallest by far of the eight vehicle assembly plants in Canada (all of which, incidentally are in Ontario). The largest of them, the Honda plant in Alliston, turns out about four times the output of Oshawa, followed by Toyota in Cambridge and Fiat Chrysler in Windsor. Oshawa is not even the largest GM plant: the Ingersoll Assembly plant produces twice as many vehicles as Oshawa.
In fact, the Oshawa plant turns out less than 6% of Canada's vehicles, and vehicle and parts manufacture constitutes just 1% of Canada's GDP (2.3% of Ontario's GDP). Ontario's auto production peaked back in 2005, falling 22% since then, and GM has actually made much deeper cuts than the rest of the industry.
So, to call GM's Oshawa plant "the engine of Canada's auto industry", as it was reported by CTV on November 25th, is something of a stretch, to say the least.

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