GM Canada to hire 700 engineers in self-driving car push

General Motors Co. will hire about 700 engineers in Canada as it expands research into self-driving cars and other technology.

The Detroit-based company made the announcement in Oshawa, Ontario on Friday alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. GM, which produces six vehicle models in Ontario, will increase its group of engineers in Canada from about 300 to about 1,000 over “the next few years.”

GM’s additional workers, to be based in the Toronto suburbs of Oshawa and Markham, will underpin the push by the federal and provincial governments to boost innovation and renew manufacturing and high-tech development in the economy of Canada’s most populous province and one-time economic engine.

“We selected Canada for this expansion because of its clear capacity for innovation, proven talent and strong ecosystem of great universities, startups and innovative suppliers,” GM Executive Vice President Mark Reuss said in a statement.

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The new engineering positions will focus on autonomous-vehicle software and controls development, safety technology, infotainment and connected vehicle technology, GM said. As part of the expansion, the company will open a new Automotive Software Development Center in Markham.

Trudeau attributed the move to a “growing network of innovative startups and suppliers” in Canada. “Today’s announcement is not an endpoint but just another step in delivering Canada’s clean-growth economy,” he said at the Friday announcement.

The expansion of engineering jobs does not guarantee a future for GM’s manufacturing plants in Canada, Reuss said. “What we’re doing here and talking about today is really the future of the automobile globally,” Reuss said, and that’s not “directly related to a manufacturing footprint.”

Ontario’s “dynamic new innovation cluster” will support the automotive innovation work, said Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors Canada.

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Canada’s manufacturing industry has suffered a long-term decline, however it’s still one of Ontario’s key sectors, employing 750,000. there are also recent signs of a broader rebound amid a lower Canadian dollar. Manufacturing employment rose by 12,200 in May, the most since November, Statistics Canada reported Friday from Ottawa.