WINDSOR, Ont. -- Ford Motor Co. plans to add output of a new engine at its Windsor, Ont., plant as part of a $600-million investment that will boost Canada's auto industry after years of job losses to Mexico and the United States.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the 7X engine, for large pickup trucks, will be built at Ford’s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor.
However, neither Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, or Mark Buzzell, CEO of Ford of Canada, would comment on the engine Thursday.
“All we’ve said is that it’s going to be a global engine and we’re going to have all kinds of flexible equipment, but we’re not saying anything about the engine, yet,” Hinrichs said. “We’re not talking about jobs, yet, either.
Hinrichs said retooling will cover the Essex Engine Plant and Windsor Engine Plant next door, adding the work will start soon. Equipment is already on the shop floor and preparation has begun, he said.
Brian Maxim, a vice president at AutoForecast Solutions, said in a telephone interview that the 7.0-litre, V8 engine would have more torque and be more fuel efficient than the 6.8-litre V10 engine now built in Windsor and used in Ford's super-duty trucks, such as the F-250.
Maxim said he expected Ford to produce about 125,000 units of the new engine per year, starting in 2019.
The investment in a new engine production line in Canada is seen as vital because the large V8 and V10 motors now built by Ford in Windsor were expected to end production in four years.
The new engine is expected to help Ford meet stringent emissions and fuel-economy requirements in North America.
The promised new engine program fulfilled a key goal for the union, which had sought investments from each of the Detroit Three automakers last fall
During 2016 contract negotiations with Canadian union Unifor, Ford pledged to spend $700 million on its Ontario manufacturing operations. Hinrichs said Thursday that $600 million will be spent on the engine program in Windsor and $100 million will be spent at the Oakville Assembly Plant.
“It’s a great day for Canada. This is about the decades to come,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said. “What we did in 2016 ensures the future is bright. Canada understands what it takes to create jobs.
“You have security, so go out and buy yourselves a car. Make sure it’s a Ford. Go out and buy a house.”
Unifor Local 200 President Chris Taylor was emotional while addressing members and dignitaries Thursday at the Essex plant.
“What you’ve done today, on our behalf, I can’t explain what it means to us,” he said. “This day seemed out of reach for a long time for our members.”
Taylor promised Hinrichs that “this new program will be delivered on time and with the highest quality.”
In a separate announcement made on the same stage, Hinrichs said Ford is spending $500 million to add more than 300 engineers and create a research and engineering centre in Ottawa, to enhance connected vehicle technology.
Ford’s various investments in Ontario disclosed today will be supported by $102 million from the province and an additional $102 million from the federal government.
“This keeps Ontario at the forefront of autonomous and connected cars,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said. “We are absolutely, 100 per cent, committed to this industry.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose father broke ground on the engine plant in 1978, said he was emotional and humbled to be at the plant for Thursday’s announcements. He called it “an extraordinarily important day.”
Between 2001 and 2013, some 14,300 jobs were lost in vehicle manufacturing in Canada, according to Hamilton's Automotive Policy Research Centre.
“Windsor has had some difficult years. You guys are tough. There’s no doubt about it,” Trudeau told the union members in attendance. “We are securing this industry and good jobs for Windsor-Essex for generations to come.”
Reuters contributed to this report.