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The pickup truck deal gives the endangered Oshawa plant a new lease on life and the gives GM a way to squeeze out more models of its profitable full-sized pickups, amid a robust market.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

The addition of truck production at the General Motors of Canada Co. assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., is expected to create 500 new jobs next year, the union that represents workers at the factory says.

Output of pickup trucks is set to begin later this year, and GM is scheduled to boost production during the second quarter of 2018, Unifor Local 222 says in an update sent to its members.

"The second shift in truck will be launched in the second quarter of 2018," the update says. "At this time, it is forecast that another 500 jobs will be added to truck."

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GM agreed in negotiations with Unifor last fall to ship unfinished bodies of its full-sized truck models from Fort Wayne, Ind., to Oshawa, where they will be painted and workers will install interiors and perform final assembly.

The deal gave the endangered Oshawa plant a new lease on life and the auto maker a way to squeeze out more models of its profitable full-sized pickups, amid a market that is robust because of the low price of gas and the continuing recovery in the U.S. housing sector.

GM Canada would not comment, but president Stephen Carlisle said in February that the vehicle slated for Oshawa is a pickup truck.

"Our facility is adding product and jobs and this is positive for the City of Oshawa," the Unifor update says.

Before the new jobs are created, however, there will be some changes at the Oshawa facility. The consolidated line, which is one of two assembly lines at the plant and which now does final assembly of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, will close this summer.

That closing affects about 670 workers, but GM is offering a retirement incentive to existing workers that includes paying them the 2018 Christmas bonus if they agree to retire between Aug. 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2018.

Initial production of the truck will require about 535 people, but the retirement incentive and existing job openings are expected to mean there will be no layoffs caused by the consolidated line closing.

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About 1,600 people work on the flex line at the Oshawa plant assembling the Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS and Buick Regal sedans.

GM's full-sized pickups have been among the company's better sales performers in the Canadian market. Deliveries rose 14 per cent in the first three months of the year to 25,096, from 21,921.

Sales fell 1 per cent in the same period in the U.S. market.

Joe McCabe, president of industry consulting firm AutoForecast Solutions LLC, said he expects GM to crank out about 60,000 pickups in Oshawa next year once full production is reached.

"Our take is they're going to build as many as they can," Mr. McCabe said.

All auto makers are building as many pickup trucks and crossovers as they can, he said.

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GM is shutting its full-sized pickup plants later this year for 10 weeks to retool them to produce redesigned models of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

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