WINDSOR, Ont. -- Ontario’s $85.8 million training and research investment in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the type of investment the province needs to be a leader in the auto sector, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.
The funding was the culmination of years of talk between FCA and the province, which is home to most of Canada’s auto industry, she told members of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association at a June 15 conference here.
The funding will support a joint FCA and University of Windsor research-and-development facility and include training that’s related to production of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, which is available later this year as a plug-in hybrid. It’s the first hybrid technology for Chrysler in a high-volume vehicle.
It’s the kind of investment “we’re going to have to make,” Wynne said.
The announcement comes after FCA failed to secure funding from the Canadian and Ontario governments before retooling its Windsor assembly plant to produce the Pacifica, publicly withdrawing an appeal for cash in 2014 after negotiations threatened to become a provincial election issue.
In a question-and-answer session at the conference with Automotive News publisher Jason Stein, Wynne said targeted investments in the auto sector are crucial to retaining and attracting companies to the region. She took aim at political opponents who criticize such investments as “corporate welfare,” and called them unrealistic.
“In the real world where we all live, partnership is how we get investment, partnership is how we get ahead, partnership is how we innovate.”
Partnering with auto companies also means that the government must be “cognizant of the realities around regulating.”
That means “making sure we listen to business, listening to the sector about what we’re doing that’s either standing in the way or slowing down the process,” Wynne said.
With files from Reuters