Ford hires 300 for Canadian connected car research

Friday, 31 Mar, 2017

"The centre will focus on research and development across infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles", a news release from the province said.

In November, Ford announced a CA$700 million investment to upgrade its Windsor Operations powertrain facility and Oakville Assembly Complex.

Representatives also say that Ford is expected to hire 400 engineers from BlackBerry to help develop new automotive technologies and driverless cars- 100 will operate in Florida, and 300 will work in Canada.

"Today's investments will help create and maintain nearly 800 great jobs for Canadians in Windsor and across Ontario, while equipping Canadians with the skills they need to design and build the cars of the future", Trudeau said in a statement Thursday.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, center, and Ford Motor Company of Canada CEO Mark Buzzell applaud during an announcement at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Later today, Trudeau visits auto parts giant Magna International Brampton, Ont., to highlight Ottawa's investments in artificial intelligence research, which were laid out in last week's federal budget.

Also Thursday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau paid a visit to the Vector Institute, a burgeoning facility in Toronto that's widely pegged as the new global hub for AI innovation.

Ford's investment in vehicle connectivity comes as cars and trucks increasingly interact with phones, houses and other vehicles.

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"It is ludicrous to suggest that Ford "needed" a $200-million handout from Ontario and Canadian taxpayers, as the company earned a global pre-tax profit of more than US$10 billion in 2015", the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said in a statement. The announcement represents a $500-million investment.

After the conclusion of labour negotiations a year ago, the auto companies launched talks with Ontario and Ottawa about investing in an industry critical to both economies. The automotive sector employs some 125,000 people for the assembly and production of parts. Both offer "non-repayable contributions" for the auto sector.

Earlier this year, Ottawa made changes to its Automotive Innovation Fund that enabled the government to provide grants to vehicle companies.

Standing beside Wynne at the University of Windsor's Centre for Engineering Innovation, economic development minister Brad Duguid said provincial leaders still hope NY won't limit where it can buy from and - if it does - that an exemption can be worked out for Ontario.

He has indicated a particular interest in investments that would support the more technologically advanced and research-focused areas of the auto industry.

Trudeau said the funding would allow Ford to say "innovative and cutting edge".

The automotive industry is the country's second largest manufacturing sector, producing more than 2.3 million vehicles every year and contributing $17.5 billion annually to the Canadian economy. The engineers previously worked at Blackberry's mobile communications group and have experience working with QNX, the operating system Ford used for its Sync 3 infotainment system.