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Civic leaders react to Cami shutdown

Less than a year after it opened, the re-tooled Cami electric vehicle plant in Ingersoll is facing its first lengthy shutdown.

Workers will go on layoff in October until spring of next year due to a battery shortage.

“Of course nobody wants to see this happen,” said Ingersoll Mayor Brian Petrie. “It certainly will have an effect on the families and the workers that work there with Unifor. And certainly, we want that to be as short as possible.”

The GM facility relaunched in December of 2022 as Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle plant.

Both Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were on hand as the new Brightdrop all-electric commercial vans began rolling off the assembly line. The newly re-tooled facility had switched from making Chevy SUVs, saving thousands of jobs in the process.

But now GM says it will halt production of Brightdrop vans from October until spring of 2024 because of delays in delivery of much needed battery modules that power the vehicle.

Oxford County Warden Marcus Ryan said this has been the new reality in the industry since the pandemic.

“We saw this,” said Ryan. “We all experienced it intimately during COVID when there were supplies that we needed vitally that were of shortage. It’s a reality of being part of the global supply chain. I think we have to look at it from a long term perspective and say, ‘How do we have a diverse economy that’s less vulnerable to these kinds of things.’”

About 1,500 people work at the plant. Members of Unifor account for about 1,200. Cami also had two additional weeks of downtime in July because of parts availability.

There is some encouraging news for the long term. GM is building its own 400-thousand square foot battery manufacturing plant at the CAMI Ingersoll site, producing batteries for the Brightdrop delivery vehicle and other EVs. It’s expected to open in the second quarter of next year.

“It’s going to see the investment that this doesn’t happen in the future,” said Petrie. “And as well, Ingersoll has experienced 25 per cent growth under construction right now under industrial and diversification. And that’s part of our plan, to make sure we have a diverse economy so we can survive into the future.” Top Stories

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