The CEO of Ford Canada said that the signing of a free trade deal between Canada and the EU was an important factor in the company’s decision to build the new Ford Edge in Oakville. Speaking to CBC news, Dianne Craig said that “free trade agreements really matter.” Other factors considered in making the decision to expand in Oakville were competitiveness, currency, labour costs and logistics.
The company announced today the official start of production of the new 2015 Edge for global export to more than 100 countries. This will add 400 new employees at the plant, in addition to 1,000 announced last year. Ford has invested $700 million in retooling and expanding the plant, transforming it into a global production platform. The company said in its announcement that the enhancements at the plant would allow it to respond more quickly and efficiently to consumer demand. The utility vehicle market has grown rapidly in the last seven years, increasing 88 per cent since 2008, Ford says. Utility vehicles now account for 19 per cent of the global automotive market. The segment is expanding three times faster than the rest of the vehicle industry.
The United States is the biggest market for the Ford Edge. It has been the best-selling five-passenger crossover utility for seven of the eight years since its launch.
The Oakville assembly plant has undergone a “massive transformation” with new technology and robotics. More than 250 new robots were added to install panels, doors, and hoods; to apply urethane to glass; to perform laser brazing, the high-tech, high-end technology that replaces conventional welding in the Edge’s roof seams; and to apply paint. A new imaging system called “Vehicle on Wheels” is used to ensure that doors, hood and lift gate fit seamlessly.
Employees at the plant received training in managing the new systems in a simulation classroom, Ford said.
Photo: Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, joins Oakville Assembly employees to celebrate the official start of production of the all-new 2015 Ford Edge.