GM Canada's president says his company is talking with its partners about its long-term future in Canada, but stopped short of giving a commitment to continue manufacturing in Ontario.
Steve Carlisle said GM has to think about its long-term competitiveness in Canada and is considering factors such as oil prices, the exchange rate and energy costs in making those decisions.
In an interview on CBC News Network’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang, he danced around the question of GM’s future here.
GM has already decided to move production of the Camaro from Oshawa to Michigan this year and next year one of three assembly plants in Oshawa will close its doors.
Asked for a commitment not to further cut production in Canada, he said: "Our focus has to be on our basic competitiveness factors."
"Some of the factors that are out there in the economy, we will have to determine where that will take us in the long run. I think there are a lot of controllables for us here in the country and within the company and with Unifor and so on, where we can create a positive circumstance, but that's work that we have to do,” he continued.
Could GM pull out?
The comments follow a warning from auto analyst Joe McCabe, president of AutoForecast Solutions, that General Motors could pull back from Ontario as it has not committed to a new model to be made in Oshawa beyond 2017.
McCabe said he expects the auto giant to pull out of Oshawa and reduce its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., to a single shift, perhaps by 2019.
Under terms of its 2009 bailout, GM is committed to maintain 16 per cent of its production in Ontario until 2016.
But now automakers are making huge commitments to new manufacturing in markets such as Mexico and China, while investment in Ontario is in decline.
GM boosted its sales in Canada by six per cent to 249,800 vehicles last year.
Carlisle said GM Canada is talking with partners, including its union (Unifor) and government, before it makes a decision.
Looking for 'a whole package'
"Everybody can do something – it's not one thing, it's a whole package," he said.
When asked about GM's commitment to Canada, he said very little about manufacturing.
"We're committed to Canada. It's our fifth largest market by sales. We have a strong dealer network, we have a strong technical capability whether it's in Oshawa or Canadian Engineering Centres, which is by the way involved in these innovation activities that I talked about," he said.
Those innovations include a next generation Volt, an electric vehicle soon to be unveiled in Detroit and the 4G LTE connectivity it unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday.
GM is using the network to alert consumers to the health and safety of their car, including when parts might fail or need service.
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