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GM Canada expands Ontario R&D centre to focus on 'connected car'

04/28/2015 11:07 EDT | Updated 08/01/2015 06:59 EDT
GM Canada is hiring an additional 100 software and controls engineers for its Canadian Engineering Centre in Oshawa, Ont., which will have a new focus on the "connected car" and green technologies.

GM Canada president Steve Carlisle announced the expansion of the engineering centre Tuesday in Oshawa.

"We are making this investment because we see an opportunity to take advantage of a wealth of talent in mobile technologies, software and advanced automotive engineering available in Canada's leading universities and other partner organizations," Carlisle said in a news release.

GM says it is expanding staff at the centre to 300 people, but also continuing research partnerships with Canadian suppliers and universities.

It plans to make the centre an innovation hub for the "connected car," including wireless systems that will help drivers navigate, avoid traffic jams and improve gas mileage as well as provide entertainment options.  

Connected car technology is considered one of the keys to development of self-driving cars.

In a video accompanying the presentation, GM described connected cars as a mandate for the company and said innovation would help make vehicles safer and more efficient.

It also plans more research into the use of alternative fuels and light-weight and advanced materials which will help improve fuel economy.

GM Canada said it spends about $190 million annually on research, between its Oshawa engineering centre, its cold-weather testing facility in Kapuskasing, Ont., and its collaborations with suppliers and universities.

Ontario is hoping development of new car technologies will give automakers an incentive to invest more in Canada.

"This is a boost to both our automotive and information and communications technology sectors, and a true testament to our highly skilled workforce," Ontario minister of economic development Brad Duguid said.

In 2012, GM committed to investing $750 million on research and development in Canada through 2017 as part of a commitment it made to the federal and Ontario governments for its 2009 buyout.

GM has not yet committed to ongoing assembly in Oshawa and says it will wait until 2016 to announce any new models for the plant.

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