General Motors Canada is “optimistic” construction of an advanced-vehicle test track on the site of its Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant will begin in the fall, the company said.
GM Canada spokeswoman Jacqueline Thomson said there was not a firm timetable, but the company believes it will receive the necessary local approvals in time to start construction then.
The news about GM Canada’s timetable for Oshawa test track construction comes after the automaker secured necessary zoning changes necessary. The Oshawa Express newspaper on Tuesday reported that the city government approved a zoning variance that would allow construction to start, though GM still needs permits before moving forward.
GM earlier this year said it would convert 55 acres on the south end of its Oshawa assembly plant site into a test track for autonomous-vehicle and advanced-vehicle technology. It’s part of a larger plan for the Oshawa plant, where vehicle assembly will end this year and a smaller stamping and parts production operation will begin.
The fall timetable is in line with one GM Canada President Travis Hester gave in July.
“Because autonomous vehicles are moving fast in the industry, we would really like that track built within six months,” Hester told Automotive News Canada. “But we’ll see how the permits go, and if it takes us 12, it takes us 12. But we’re pulling to go very fast on that site.”
GM has said the test track would benefit its nearby Canadian Technical Centre in Oshawa, as well as its new technical centre in Markham, Ont., that opened in 2018. Much of the testing on the software developed in Canada now occurs in the United States.