GM to produce electric drives in Ontario
General Motors has announced an investment in its powertrain plant in St. Catharines in the Canadian province of Ontario to produce more than 400,000 electric drive system units per year in the future. However, GM is making the investment dependent on additional funding.
The exact amount of GM’s investment is not mentioned in the announcement, but it was clarified that apart from the 400,000 drive units, about 500 jobs would be created in the assembly of electric drive systems. General Motors did specify that the investment is still subject to government subsidies. The corresponding negotiations with the Canadian government and the provincial government of Ontario are to be concluded this year. Since GM has now not only published this information but has also informed the employees in St. Catharines together with union representatives, GM seems to be optimistic about the funding commitment.
The drive systems are intended for the group’s electric vehicles based on the Ultium platform. GM originally introduced the drive system ‘Ultium Drive’ in 2020. Due to the modular system, the drive units from St. Catharines can theoretically be installed in all Ultium models. Accordingly, GM also lists all models announced so far or in production, from the GMC Hummer EV to the Cadillac Lyriq and the Chevrolet Equinox EV.
It would be obvious, however, that at least some of the drive units will remain in Canada: The Ingersoll vehicle plant, which like St. Catharines is located in Ontario, is where the production of the electric delivery vehicles of the new BrightDrop brand is based. The BrightDrop Zevo 600 is also based on the Ultium platform.
In St. Catharines, GM currently produces internal combustion engines and transmissions for various car and pickup models. “This is a time of historic change for our industry, and with this significant investment, St. Catharines will play a critical role in our electric vehicle future,” said Marissa West, president and CEO of GM Canada. “The St. Catharines team produces engines and transmissions for many of GM’s most popular vehicles, including full size trucks, SUVs and Corvette and we are very excited to announce our plans to supply critical drive units as well. This will support GM’s plans to build 1 million electric vehicles a year in North America by 2025.”
If the Canadian government’s funding commitment means that electric drive systems will be built in St. Catharines as planned, it would not be the first production base for the Ultium Drive units around the Great Lakes in the US-Canadian border region: in September 2022, General Motors had announced that it would manufacture e-drives at its transmission plant in Toledo.