GM Canada to Produce Second Smaller BrightDrop Electric Van at CAMI Ingersoll – London Facility | The Canadian News

GM Canada’s CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, has received another jolt of support from the automaker when it comes to electric vehicle production.

Nine months after GM revealed that it would use the facility to produce its new BrightDrop EV600 electric commercial trucks starting next year, the company announced Tuesday that it also planned to produce its younger brother, the EV410, starting in 2023.

Full-scale production of the EV600 is expected to begin at CAMI in November 2022, following a four-month plant redevelopment once current production of the Chevrolet Equinox ends in April.

Under an agreement ratified by Unifor members in January, GM Canada agreed to invest $ 1 billion in the CAMI plant to convert it into vans.

The automaker says it is using a US partner to build initial low-volume production versions of the EV600 until the CAMI plant is ready. The first of those builds went off the line earlier this week for FedEx Express and is scheduled to hit the streets later this year.

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GM announces that the EV600s have been “the fastest vehicle built, from concept to market” in its history, taking approximately 20 months.

The EV410 is expected to share many features of the larger EV600, but aimed at shorter and more frequent trips. US telecommunications giant Verizon has been identified as the first customer for the new smaller vans.

Both truck models have an estimated range of up to 400 kilometers on a full charge, GM says.

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“I think this is great news,” said Mike Van Boekel, president of Unifor Local 88 Unit 1, on Wednesday.

“Our plant has been idle for a long time, so it would be better news if we could get some semiconductors and get them all back to work. However, hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later. But the announcement of a second vehicle is fantastic. “

Production of the trucks may not come soon enough for CAMI workers. The plant has been largely closed since February as a result of a global semiconductor chip shortage that has wreaked havoc on the auto sector and other chip-dependent industries.

“We actually went down on February 7, which is hard to believe. We have only been back to work for three weeks, which was in June, ”said Van Boekel. According to Automotive News, GM expects the CAMI facility, which has been out of service since mid-July, stay idle until October 15.

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When the temporary closure was announced in February, workers were initially told that the plant would be idle for a week. Other GMO plants have also been affected by the current chip shortage.

The chip shortage has been fueled in part by the widespread shutdown of production last year due to COVID-19 which has not risen again as fast as demand. Large outbreaks of COVID-19 in countries where semiconductor chips are made have also contributed to the ongoing shortages.

Chips have been in especially high demand in consumer electronics as more people work from home, leaving the auto industry struggling to get enough supply.

“We have about 100 people in the plant right now,” Van Boekel said, a significant departure from the roughly 1,600 working at the plant on any given day. More than 600 workers have retired in the last year, he said.

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“We have about 50 people working on the new electric vehicle, and then we have about 50 exchanges right now at the plant doing prep work, getting everything ready. We are building slowly, but we just can’t get the semiconductors, ”he said.

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Amid the volatility of the pandemic and chip shortages, GM’s commitment to making BrightDrop trucks at CAMI will mean some long-term stability for the plant and its workers, Van Boekel said.

“They said it’s a plan of at least 10 years … That’s great. And I also believe in the domino effect for the community and also for some other jobs, ”he said.

“There will be fewer jobs overall than there will be for a normal fuel engine, but that’s the nature of the electric motor. I think it is definitely the way of the future. “

He notes that the types of delivery trucks that will soon roll off the assembly line at CAMI have become even more ubiquitous as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer tastes.

“They believe that there is enormous potential for growth. Most people now see it in their homes with delivery service. I know I have three teenage children and I swear we have our own truck that comes to our house every day, ”he said.

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“Especially since COVID came along, it seems like the world made a major change and I think it is here to stay.”

– with files from Ian Bickis of The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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