It looks like a losing battle. But Canada’s Unifor union is hoping to somehow resurrect the Canadian assembly plant General Motors closed this week in Oshawa, Ont.
The venerable factory has been making cars since 1907. In its heyday more than three decades ago, the plant employed some 23,000 people and cranked out more than 700,000 vehicles per year.
Now Oshawa is destined to become a facility that employs a mere 300 people to make metal stampings and assemble parts for GM’s 30-year-old CAMI Automotive affiliate in Ingersoll Ont. The Oshawa plant site also hosts a test track for the development of autonomous vehicles.
Years on Life Support
The Oshawa complex, which once consisted of two plants, has produced a long list of Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models over the decades. But the facility, a past winner of multiple quality and efficiency awards, also has been on a bumpy downward slide for years.
GM has scheduled the plant for closure repeatedly since 2005, only to extend its life each time for a few years more. In 2008, the company decided to end operations at the No. 2 plant, which had been making light-duty trucks.
But GM’s manufacturing overcapacity in North American finally got the best of the facility, a past winner of multiple quality and efficiency awards.
The final death knell came in November last year, when GM announced capacity cutbacks that closed the company’s compact car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, last May and doomed Oshawa to closure by the end of December. The Canadian factory assembled its last vehicle, a 2019 model GMC Sierra fullsize pickup, on Dec. 18.
One More Chance?
Unifor President Jerry Dias still isn’t ready to give up on the vision of Oshawa one day returning as a major player in the auto industry. “there’s always hope we’ll have another vehicle to assemble,” he tweeted earlier this week. “We haven’t thrown in the towel.”
GKN Driveline (Redditch, UK; www.gkndriveline.com) has two new technologies for the constant velocity joints (CVJs) that significantly reduce weight, NVH levels, size, and improve efficiency. “We’ve thrown out the rulebook for constant velocity joint design,” says Al Deane, global engineering manager, GKN Driveline Driveshafts, “because the generic limits of the Rzeppa joint currently in use have been reached while our customers continue to ask for more torque capacity in a smaller package.” The new designs lean heavily on GKN’s in-house forging and machining capabilities to produce both the S-shaped and radial offset tracks used on its Countertrack CVJ and the combination of angled and straight tracks found on its Crosstrack ball plunging CVJs. COUNTERTRACKCountertrack CVJ designs are used on the fixed joints of all propshafts, and on the wheel-end CVJ of front sideshafts of FWD, AWD and 4x4 vehicles.
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