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GM plan to hire up to 1,000 engineers in Canada a major boost for self-driving car’s future

GM plan to hire up to 1,000 engineers in Canada a major boost for self-driving car’s future

Driverless cars now a lot closer to reality after Canada’s biggest auto deal in a decade

By Peter Armstrong, CBC News Posted: Jun 10, 2016 9:55 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 10, 2016 1:54 PM ET

It’s been a long time since Ontario’s beleaguered auto industry got some good news. And even the good news has been tempered by the lousy trend lines in an industry with a shrinking footprint in Canada.

But GM announced today it is substantially boosting the number of research and development workers by bringing the number of software engineers it employs in Canada to 1,000. They’ll be tasked with developing the company’s software for self-driving, autonomous connected cars.

The news that first trickled out earlier this week was made official at GM’s Canadian Technical Center in Oshawa, Ont., on Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne drove into the facility in an all-electric Chevy Bolt, a clear symbol of the direction the industry is headed.

The cars they help design may be the vehicles of the future, but “there’s nothing theoretical about this,” said GM Canada’s president, Stephen Carlisle.

Most of the jobs will be split between existing facilities in Oshawa, Markham and Waterloo, Ont., but the company will also spend $10 million to expand its cold-weather-testing facility in Kapuskasing, Ont.

No, it’s not a commitment to build any new cars here, and no, it doesn’t answer important questions about the fate of GM’s assembly lines (one of which is scheduled to close next year). But it’s a glimmer of hope for the future. And here are three big reasons Friday’s job news is an important announcement.

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