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The Globe and Mail

GM Canada plans $750-million in R&D spending

Prime Minister Stephen Harper plugs in a GM Volt electric car for a photo opportunity with President of General Motors Canada Kevin Williams, left and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, right at the General Motors Plant in Oshawa, Ont., on Tuesday July 24, 2012.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

General Motors of Canada Ltd. will increase research and development significantly by 2016 to meet a commitment to boost those activities in Canada as part of Canadian governments' contribution to the bailout of its parent company.

GM pegged the number at $750-million (U.S.) over the next five years, or $150-million a year until 2016. The auto maker promised in 2009 when General Motors Co. received $10.5-billion from the federal and Ontario governments that it would spend about $1-billion between then and 2016 on research and development in Canada.

The announcement was made at the GM Canada regional engineering centre in Oshawa, Ont., where the company is based and where it has two vehicle assembly plants.

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The projects will focus on environmental technologies, reducing vehicle weight and intelligent transportation systems. Several Ontario universities are working on research projects funded in part by GM Canada, and some of those studies are expected to be expanded or continued as a result of Tuesday's announcement.

The GM Canada investment came on the same day that Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. said it will spend $100-million and hire 400 people by 2014 to increase production of its Lexus RX350 crossover utility vehicle in Cambridge, Ont. That move will boost the company's output to 500,000 vehicles annually by 2014.

The increase in Cambridge also includes production of the hybrid version of the RX350, the first time Toyota will assemble a hybrid vehicle in Canada.

Toyota will make battery-powered versions of its RAV4 crossover in Woodstock, Ont.

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