GM Delays Planned Retooling of St. Catharines Propulsion Plant in Canada to Produce EV Motors

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General Motors (GM) has decided to delay its plans to produce electric vehicle (EV) motors at the St. Catharines Propulsion Plant in Canada. The exact costs for retooling the plant and the contributions from the Canadian and Ontario governments have not been disclosed. The St. Catharines Standard was the first to report this development.

GM is currently reassessing its strategy for the plant, which previously employed around 1,100 workers to manufacture V-6 and V-8 engines and transmissions. As a result of the halted V-6 engine production, approximately 300 employees have been laid off. GM has indicated that retooling efforts are ongoing to shift the production lines towards EV drive units, and the timeline for this transition is still being evaluated.

In February 2023, GM announced plans to start producing Ultium electric drive units at St. Catharines, while continuing some V-8 engine production for a yet-to-be-determined period. The planned electric motors were intended to power GM’s BrightDrop electric delivery vans and electric pickups. Initially, the goal was to produce 400,000 motors annually at the facility.

However, there is a notable decline in interest in EVs in both Canada and the United States. A J.D. Power study revealed that only about a quarter of new-vehicle shoppers in Canada would consider an EV for their next purchase. In the U.S., the interest in EVs has also seen a decline for the first time in three years.

When the EV production plans were first announced, former GM Canada President Marissa West emphasized the significance of the St. Catharines plant in GM’s objective to manufacture one million EVs in North America by 2025. However, she mentioned that this investment depended on support agreements with the federal and Ontario governments, which are still being finalized.

The delay has caused concern among union members. Unifor’s Longpre noted that the company communicated the delay verbally, which is unusual as official announcements are typically provided in writing. The union is seeking further details and aims to address the membership’s concerns regarding the plant’s transition and its impact on workers.

Source: Automotive News


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