(WINDSOR, ON) – Ford Canada selected its Essex engine plant to make to an announcement this morning of a series of research and development initiatives. Its Windsor Powertrain Engineering Research and Development Centre, which has operated within the engine plant for a number of years, will collaborate with Ford’s resources in Oakville to carry out research in sustainability and fuel efficiency.
This will include advancing powertrain technologies, alternative fuels and so-called lightweighting development as well as furthering Ford’s patented research focused on capturing industrial emissions and converting them to useable fuel at its Fumes-to-Fuel Research Development Centre. The Centre is located on its vehicle assembly campus in Oakville.
In addition, the company will open a new research and development centre in Ottawa. Company officials say the initiatives will have a price tag of $500 million to extend what it calls its connectivity leadership. Its goal is to add more software and hardware engineers and to establish a new Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre.
An addition of 400 engineers, approximately 300 in Canada, will more than double its mobile connectivity engineering team. It is doing this to accelerate the pace of innovation, expand services to leverage the potential of the connected vehicle ecosystem and extend its connected vehicle technology leadership.
“Connectivity is the critical component to the future of mobility,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer. “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. By more than doubling our connectivity talent and establishing a research centre, we can innovate faster and deliver more software and services to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
Ford’s planned Ottawa Centre will focus on research and development into infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles. Additional facilities will be located in Waterloo and Oakville as well as Cary, NC, and Sunrise, FL.
This will be Ford’s first centre focused on connectivity research and advanced technology in Canada, and it will serve global connectivity needs for Ford.
According to predictions from a Transparency Market Research study, the company said it expects the global connected car market to reach $131 billion by 2019. It anticipated annual growth rate will be about 30 per cent annually.
Ford talks of being on the forefront of this market with built-in modems offered across multiple vehicle lines. It also has plans to equip 20 million cars globally with built-in modems in the next five years.
“Canada has reinforced its position in Ford’s global operations as the company shifts to lead as both an auto and mobility company,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas, Ford Motor Company. “With this commitment and the support from key strategic partners, we have established a strong future for the highly-skilled and talented employees across Canadian operations.”
Ford has previously, within the last six months, announced $1.2 billion in Canadian investments, this includes $700 million in its manufacturing facilities. Part of this will be used to continue its work to transforming its Windsor Operations into a world-class engine facility and adding an all-new global engine program, supporting its future in Ford’s global powertrain operations.
The money will also be allocated to ongoing upgrades of its Oakville Assembly Complex to support the production of the Ford Edge, which is exported from Canada to more than 100 countries.
“Working together with Unifor we were able to create a compelling package that is enabling us to make a significant investment in the Windsor site,” said Bruce Hettle, group vice president, Manufacturing and Labour Affairs, Ford Motor Company. “This project will bring the latest levels of powertrain manufacturing innovation and flexible technology to our Canadian operations.”
Ford’s investments are partly funded by both the federal and provincial governments. Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial premier Kathleen Wynne were on hand for the announcement.