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Ottawa, Ontario to commit $150-million to Windsor Ford plant

The Ford's Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont.

CRAIG GLOVER/CP

The federal and Ontario governments will provide about $150-million to Ford Motor Co. to backstop a $700-million investment the auto maker is making at its Canadian operations, sources familiar with the company's plans say.

The announcement of the government investment is scheduled to be made Thursday in Windsor, Ont., by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and senior Ford executives.

The bulk of the $700-million will be spent at Ford's operations in Windsor, which has been earmarked as the site for the new 7X engine program.

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That is a 6.9-litre V8 engine that will replace the 6.8-litre V10 now assembled at the Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, one of two Ford engine plants in the city.

The new engine will be one of the options on Ford's F-Series pickup trucks, the best-selling vehicle in the Ford lineup in both Canada and the United States.

Ford declined to comment.

Read more: Canada's path toward new automotive investments

Ford agreed in contract negotiations with Unifor last year to make the investment in its Canadian operations, part of $1.5-billion in new spending commitments the union won from the Canadian units of Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and General Motors Co. Unifor represents about 1,700 workers at Ford's two Windsor engine plants.

Combined support from the two governments in recent investment announcements has typically been about 20 per cent of the total amount of money spent.

The federal money is expected to come from the government's Automotive Innovation Fund. The Liberal government raised the amount of money in the fund to $1-billion from $500-million.

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Fiat Chrysler committed to spend about $300-million to replace the paint shop at its Brampton, Ont., assembly plant, while GM agreed to spend about $550-million at a vehicle factory in Oshawa, Ont., and an engine plant in St. Catharines, Ont.

Fiat Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January that the company would seek financial help from the governments. General Motors of Canada Ltd. president Stephen Carlisle said last month that GM would not ask for government money for its projects.

One of the GM projects includes using one of its two Oshawa factories to perform final assembly of full-sized pickup trucks whose bodies will be shipped to Oshawa from another GM plant in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Ford came under fire from President Donald Trump during the U.S. election campaign for plans to build an assembly plant in Mexico that would ship compact cars to the U.S. market. The auto maker cancelled that plan in January, but said a slump in demand for small cars meant the plant was no longer necessary.

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About the Author
Auto and Steel Industry Reporter

Greg Keenan has covered the automotive and steel industries for The Globe and Mail since 1995. He also writes about broader manufacturing trends. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and of the University of Western Ontario School of Journalism. More

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