One of General Motors’ Canadian production facilities recently completed a billion-dollar overhaul and retool to update it for production of the brand’s full-size pickup trucks, but the outlook for the plant hasn’t always been so rosy.
General Motors’ Oshawa Assembly facility was part of the automaker’s plan to cut five production locations in North America. It was scheduled to close permanently under the plan, so the decision to retool the plant and build pickups came as welcome news to the people of Oshawa. A GM spokesman told the Detroit Free Press that the project is one of the fastest factory launches in General Motors history, and noted that the process was completed six to twelve months faster than planned.
The retooling effort finished well ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean it was a small undertaking. GM invested $1.1 billion in the overhaul, which involved building a new body shop that sprawls out over 13 acres. New machinery was also installed, including over 1,000 robots, along with miles of conveyors and wiring.
While the facility’s progress is certainly good news for locals, it’s not an entirely selfless move by GM. The automaker is scrambling to keep up with steep demand after pandemic-related shutdowns and the ongoing chip shortages have made it exceedingly difficult to build new vehicles of all types.
Beyond the fact that demand is so strong enough for GM to sell more trucks than it can make, pickups are profitable for the company. Buyers tend to snap up expensive and well-equipped trim levels, which offer larger profit margins for automakers.