VT81Automotive investment is coming back, big time, to Ontario, said one automotive industry analyst.

Ontario’s auto sector has received, and is soon to get, billions of dollars in investment thanks to a resurgent auto economy.

“It is good news, and I think a big reason for that is that we are competitive again,” said Carlos Gomes, automotive economist with Scotiabank.

He pointed to the Canadian dollar, now worth about 90 cents compared to the U.S. dollar, as one reason, along with auto workers under Unifor bargaining to address problems and increase productivity.

“If we compare cost structure to the U.S., we are at parity. Canada was a high cost region and we lagged in new investment. That has been reversed,” said Gomes. With sales demand growing, production capacity is in demand across North America, meaning plants will be busy for years to come, he added.

“They need additional capacity to meet rising demand,” said Gomes.

According to industry reports, 18.3 million vehicles were sold in North America in 2013 and this year that will rise to 18.89 million.

“Canada continues to be one of the most productive and efficient places to build vehicles in the world,” said Dino Chiodo, Unifor Local 444 president and National

Executive Board member. “We have some of the best trained and highly skilled workers assembling vehicles anywhere. In the last round of bargaining we were able to maintain a competitive wage pattern in comparison with the United States,” Chiodo added.

Recent Auto Investment in Ontario:

$3.6 billion, Chrysler Canada

Proposed future investment at plants in Windsor assembling minivans and Brampton, where the Charger, Challenger and Chrysler 300 are made. There are about 7,700 workers at both plants.

 

$2 billion, GM Canada

Has invested about $1 billion in recent years at its Ontario operations and will spend an additional $1 billion in the next few years in research and development. It has modernized and expanded its powertrain facility in St. Catharines and CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll and shifts have been added to its Oshawa plant. It is also developing electric vehicles here.

 

$725 million, Ford of Canada

Will retool its Oakville plant to assemble the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers on a global platform. Assembly of the current versions of the larger Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossovers will continue.

 

$500 million: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada

Invested from 2013 to this year, developing a hybrid version of the Lexus crossover, electric RAV4, new models for RAV4, Corolla, and Matrix and expansion of the Woodstock plant. Production has been boosted to more than 500,000 vehicles a year.

 

Honda Canada Manufacturing

In 2012 began assembling the CR-V at its Alliston, Ontario plant, adding 400 workers for the new vehicle. Honda assembles 1,600 vehicles a day in Ontario between two assembly plants.

 

Total: More than $6.8 billion