General Motors (GM) announced last week that the company will stop making cars in Oshawa, ON after next year and will cease production on many of their gas-powered sedans. Although the latter announcement received less media attention in Canada due largely to the closure of the Oshawa plant, this news reinforces GM’s shift from gas-powered vehicles to electric and autonomous electric vehicles.
The Canadian Automotive Industry Isn’t Dying, It’s Changing.
The new reality for automakers is the balancing act involved with meeting the present demand for gas-powered cars and trucks while at the same time ensuring they’re prepared for the future demand for electric and autonomous electric vehicles.
GM’s restructuring that eliminates gas-powered car models in favour of electric and autonomous electric vehicles is part of a larger trend in the automotive industry.
Canada has been shifting in the zero-emission direction for several years. When GM announced their plan to substantially boost their research and development departmentin 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne symbolically arrived at the facility in a zero-emission electric Chevy Bolt.
After their arrival, GM announced that they would be hiring 1,000 Canadian software engineers tasked with developing software for electric and autonomous electric vehicles.
Can Ontario Satisfy the Next Generation of Automotive Jobs?
The answer is jobs in automotive technology and parts.GM alone spends over $3 billion annually on major and minor parts and tools from Ontario suppliers. That money supports thousands of Ontario jobs beyond GM.
The $6 billion in anticipated savings from closing the Oshawa plant, as well as the four other plants across North America, will go directly to the research and development of electric and autonomous electric vehicles.
Companies like GM will need to pour money and resources into engineering and high-tech jobs compete with the Teslas of the world – a need Canada can satisfy.
Some of the highest performing software in current autonomous vehicles, for example, comes from BlackBerry’s offshoot company QNX, based in Waterloo. But no matter how advanced the technology of the next generation vehicles get, these vehicles will still need battery warmers, cabin heaters, doors, windows, engines, and body panels.
The next generation of electric and autonomous electric automobiles will bring with it a whole new market of jobs developing new technology and supplying parts.
Electric and autonomous electric vehicles will require an entirely different set of components, and these engineers and parts manufacturers will need to design and build them. They will need to design motors instead of combustion engines, batteries instead of gasoline, and accessories and parts to go with them.
Parts manufacturers work with companies like Datec to develop new technology to stay one step ahead of the rapid changes in the automotive industry.
Datec integrates its high powered heating system into heat exchanger devices that are compact, lightweight, and are made specifically for electric and hybrid vehicles.]The Canadian automotive industry is certainly not doomed, but it is changing and businesses will need to adapt to survive.
Datec is a custom heating element manufacturer specializing in thick film heating solutions. Our solutions are ideal for industries such as: commercial food service, medical devices, electronics, automotive, and appliances.