Ford to boost connected-car research in Canada

Mark Buzzell- Ford

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced conditional grants of up to $102.4 million each during an event Thursday at a Ford Canada engine plant in Windsor, Ont., the cradle of Canadas auto industry.

The funding also aims to help Ford establish an advanced manufacturing program that will transform the powertrain plant in Windsor.

The new hires, many of whom are coming from BlackBerry Ltd's (BB.TO) shuttered handset business, will work on infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, handset integration, security, driver assist features and autonomous vehicles, Ford said. The company also plans for additional facilities in Waterloo and Oakville, Ontario, as well as Cary, North Carolina and Sunrise, Florida.

The latter project is focused on developing connected auto technology, including research and development on features like infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles.

Ford's partnership with the federal and provincial governments comes one month after Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and a team of envoys lobbied Queen's Park to make investments towards creating an autonomous vehicles hub in the Capital.

"Whether it's providing information to help reduce congestion in cities, allowing vehicles and infrastructure to communicate to keep us safer on the road or simply knowing all your personal settings when you enter a self-driving vehicle, connectivity is the key", Nair said.

CEO Mark Buzzell and the company's president of the Americas Joe Hinrichs were also at the media event.




The investment reflects Ontario's position as a global leader in the auto industry and builds on the province's reputation for cutting-edge automotive research and manufacturing.

Ford Motor Company of Canada is Canada's longest-established automaker.

Ed Giofu has worked for Ford in Windsor for the past 34 years and survived three plant closures. he called the investment "awesome".

Last year, the three largest North American automakers committed to pump more than $1 billion combined into their Canadian operations following contract talks with their unionized workers.

The auto maker made the announcement Thursday in Windsor, Ont., where its Essex Engine Plant will begin building a new V8 engine, preserving 500 jobs.

Maxim said he expected Ford to produce about 125,000 units of the new engine per year, starting in 2019.

Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs said her company has done tech studies for the last three years and the one thing that comes up repeatedly is that millennials want a seamless transition from outside of the vehicle to inside of the auto.

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