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The murals on the walls of the bus station in Oshawa illustrate the importance of GM to the city. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The murals on the walls of the bus station in Oshawa illustrate the importance of GM to the city. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Angst in Oshawa: The foggy road ahead for GM Canada Add to ...

While one assembly plant in Oshawa, known as the consolidated plant, is scheduled to close next year, the neighbouring flexible plant appears secure until at least 2017, in part because of the production commitment made in 2009 in return for the bailout.

But whether the flexible plant will continue on the current three shifts that employ about 2,900 workers will depend on sales and whether production of Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS sedans will compensate for the loss of the Camaro sports car in 2015.

Several industry sources noted that the auto maker has not earmarked any vehicles for Oshawa beyond 2017 to replace Impala, Regal and XTS.

“What potentially could come into Oshawa that doesn’t have a home right now or a new product coming along?” said one industry source. “When you really look at it, there’s nothing you could come up with in the GM lineup that makes sense.”

Another source said the Regal is not being replaced for North American markets. Regal output is scheduled to end in 2016.

The Cadillac XTS will be replaced by a vehicle called the ZTS that is scheduled to be built in Hamtramck, Mich., another industry source said.

Others believe Impala production will also be shifted to Hamtramck, where there’s only one shift of production now.

The Impala is already being assembled at that plant, so increasing production at the Michigan plant would be relatively painless.

A forecast issued by Ward’s Auto/Automotive Compass, shows Impala production remaining in Oshawa through 2019 and a new version of the Regal being assembled at the flexible plant beginning in 2016.

Mr. Williams said the company has no new announcements to make about products for Oshawa beyond the recent additions of the XTS and a new generation of the Impala to the flexible plant.

“Any future investments will be evaluated based on a comprehensive business case, as is the same process for evaluating all potential investments in automotive manufacturing,” he said.

One factor that makes Oshawa vulnerable is that global platforms – the basic vehicle underbody – and common manufacturing systems now make it easier for GM to easily shift production among plants, said Joe Langley, principal analyst in the automotive division of consulting firm IHS Global Insight.

“The market is too globally competitive and we’re even seeing potential U.S. sourcing and investment coming under pressure from Mexico, leaving Canada far from anyone’s mind,” Mr. Langley said.

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