Bye, bye Maple Leaf, hello Stars & Stripes: GM announced today that the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro would be assembled at the Lansing Grand River Plant in Michigan. GM said that lower capital investment and improved production efficiencies were factors that caused it to move the Camaro from what was its home plant in Oshawa, Ontario since a successful fifth generation revival occurred in 2009.
GM was quick to affirm that it will continue to meet the production targets agreed to with the Canadian and Ontario governments when they supplied bailout money during its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring. The Canadian governments still own almost 9% of the recovering company. However, it still points out a real weakness in government aid programs. Taxpayers have no say in decisions such as this one that can undermine the business they are trying to protect.
The Canadian Auto Workers union characterized the move as a betrayal that will lead to the loss of a 1,000 jobs. This was the latest setback for the beleaguered CAW, which just concluded contracts with the Detroit Three this fall. It was the end of a difficult series of negotiations for the weakened union, as the three multinational automakers – Chrysler, Ford and GM – presented a united front and asked for the end of all defined benefit pensions, cuts in current wages, which ranged from C$34-$41, dropping the “30 years and out” retirement provision, and elimination of most work rules. The Detroit Three argued that an overvalued Canadian dollar, unhealthy financial markets, and increasing imports from Asia and Europe, required the drastic givebacks. When the deal was finally done, a partial victory emerged for both sides, and it was, arguably, the best the union could do against job-exporting automakers without bringing the factories tumbling down on its own union members.(Read AutoInformed on GM CAW Members Overwhelmingly Approve New Contract, CAW Members Approve New Chrysler Two-Tier Labor Contract, Ford CAW Approves First Four-Year Two-Tier Wage Contract)
There is some capitalist logic in the plan since the Camaro is the only rear-wheel-drive vehicle currently built at Oshawa, which also builds the slow-selling rwd Regal – whose future is doomed when it’s replaced by a front-drive version at Oshawa – as well as the full-size Cadillac XTS. The next-generation Chevrolet Impala is scheduled to launch there in 2013. GM previously said it would add a third shift for the new Impala. The consolidated line at Oshawa Assembly will continue to produce the current generation Chevrolet Impala and Equinox until June 2014.
Previously, the Lansing Grand River plant, the production site for the Cadillac ATS sedan and CTS Sedan, Wagon and Coupe as well as the V-Series performance models of each, was designated by GM as a Cadillac plant. It underwent a $190 million upgrade for ATS production, which started last summer, and was built in 1999.