The start of truck assembly Nov. 10 is also roughly two months ahead of the original January 2022 target GM shared last November when announcing the up to $1.3 billion investment.
Unifor President Jerry Dias said the return of vehicle production to Oshawa is “unprecedented.”
“It is an achievement owed to the resiliency and dedication of Unifor members. Seeing the first of many trucks roll off the newly re-opened Oshawa assembly line was a proud moment for everyone who fought shoulder to shoulder for these jobs.”
Dias and other union leadership worked to bring production back to Oshawa through the final months of 2019 and 2020, even as plant workers capped off the final Sierra LD pickup a few days before Christmas 2019.
The end of vehicle assembly two years ago put 2,300 employees out of work, though the plant escaped full closure. About 300 staff were kept on at the site as part of a stamping operation.
GM credited strong truck demand for its 2020 decision to retool and reopen the Oshawa Assembly Plant. It started construction last November at the sprawling complex east of Toronto, eventually installing more than 1,200 new robots, more than 300 miles of electrical wiring and some 3,000 new conveyors to modernize the plant.
The rejigged Oshawa operation will run on two shifts, creating 1,800 jobs. GM has not shared the final cost of the investment, nor the number of trucks the plant is expected to produce. It did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The reversal of Oshawa’s fortunes marks a “resurgence” of Ontario’s auto sector, according to Vic Fedeli, provincial minister of economic development, job creation and trade.
“Today’s celebration is an important milestone in Ontario’s automotive history with the revitalization of a plant that has been a part of the fabric of Oshawa and Durham Region for decades.”
Fedeli added the province will continue to back Ontario’s auto sector with its chequebook
Bell also pointed to further opportunities in Ontario. He said GM is working with the federal and provincial governments on “even larger” investments in Canada.
GM said it will ship the first trucks built at the revived Oshawa plant to dealers next month.