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NEWS ARTICLE
INDEX

Ford Begins
Building
Mysterious
New Pickup,
The Maverick
_______

Ford begins
early
production
of not-
yet-announced
small pickup
truck
________

Most
Canadians
could get
1st dose of
COVID-19
vaccine by
end of June
________

Ontario won't
administer
AstraZeneca
COVID-19
vaccine to
seniors, final
plan still in
the works
_______

FCA guilty
in labor
corruption
scandal as
auto industry
marks new
low
________

Ford of
Canada names
Bev Goodman
as new
president
and CEO
______

Ford, GM face
big earnings
drop from chip
shortfall
_______

Ford
announces
recall of
thousands
of 2021
F-150s
over defect
______

Ford loses
track of
dangerous
air bags,
forcing 2
recalls
_______

Flying back
to Canada?
Here’s what
you can
expect at
the new
COVID-19
quarantine
hotels
______

Why proper
home care
should be a
cornerstone
of how our
health system
looks after
seniors
_______

Ford bets $1
billion on
electric
future,
new EV manufacturing facility in
Germany
_______

Winter
storm
halts production
at Ford,
GM plants
across
country
_______

Ford sells
stake in
lidar maker
Velodyne
______

How Canada
can capitalize
on U.S. auto
sector's
abrupt pivot
to electric
vehicles
______

Autoworkers
face dimmer
future in
a new era of
electric cars
_______

2021 Ford
F-150
Raptor pickup
revealed with
new suspension
and tech
______

GM hourly
workers
expected to
get $9,000
profit-sharing
checks for
pandemic-
marred 2020
_______

UAW Ford
workers
can expect
profit-
sharing
payouts
down 45%
_______

"A call to
arms"
Canada
Stuggles
to get
COVID
Vaccines
________

Ford beats
Q4 earnings
estimates,
announces
$29 billion
electric and
autonomous
car plan
_______

Ford to sell
Mustang
Mach-E
in China
_______

Canada’s
new travel
restrictions
‘a death blow’
to airlines,
UNIFOR
president
says
______

Is it time to
end ‘for-profit
long-term care
in Ontario?
_______

Canada
announces
mandatory
hotel
quarantine for
international
passengers,
suspends
travel to
Caribbean
_______

Biden's 'Buy
American'
order likely
to have little
impact on
Canadian firms
______

FCA reaches
$30M deal to
settle federal
corruption
probe
________

Biden
signs order
strengthening
Buy American
rules
_______

US probes
complaints
that Ford
tailgate
recall
didn't work
_______

Air bag
recall to cost
$610 million,
Ford Motor
Company says
_______

Corrupt UAW
boss wore
wire while
playing golf
with union
brothers
_______

Lincoln
Corsair EV
coming in
2026, report
says
_______

Canadian GM
workers ratify
contract for
commercial
electric van
production
______

Ford, despite
pandemic
disruptions,
boosted China
sales in 2020
_______

Windsor
Assembly
barricade
dispute
reignites
________

Wearing wires
put convicted
UAW official
'at risk,'
lawyer says
_______

Province
confirms
who can
receive
COVID-19
vaccine
as part of
Phase 2, mass
delivery
expected by
April
_______

Ford ending
manufacturing
in Brazil, but
will continue
South America
operations
______

Ford
dominates
Car of Year
Awards with
F-150 and
Mustang
Mach-E
________

North American
auto industry
feels effects
of global
microchip
shortage
_______

Ford Maverick
compact pickup
truck leaks
in new photo
______

GM, Ford convert hundreds of temps to permanent employees
_______

In latest
management
shakeup, Ford announces new
U.S., Canada
sales lead
______

Canada’s top
paid CEOs
will earn the average
yearly income
by noon on
January 4th
_______

Daimler fines
for slow
recalls
could reach
$30 million
________

Americans to
#FinishStrong
during critical
pandemic
period
______

2020
Articles

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News

Ford Begins Building Mysterious New Pickup, It’s Likely
The Maverick

Anthony Alaniz  
March 8, 2021

Ford built 21 examples of its “C-Pick Up.”

It appears production for Ford’s bite-sized pickup truck has already started. The company’s February 2021 sales report shares the company’s production numbers broken down by factory, make, and model, revealing that “C-Pick Up” production has started at the company’s Hermosillo factory in Mexico. This likely represents the first bit of production for the new Maverick, which will slot below the Ranger in Ford’s lineup.

Ford built just 21 examples of its C-pickup, likely representing a slate of pre-production models intended to be tested against the company’s grueling standards. Photos emerged in early January showing what appears to be a Maverick pickup sitting alone on the assembly line in the Hermosillo factory. It lacked doors, though it did wear camouflage along the fenders, hood, and bumper. Reports have indicated that the Maverick will share its underpinnings with the new Bronco Sport, which is also being built at the Mexican factory.

CNBC initially reported the interesting nugget of information, even asking Ford for comment, though the automaker declined to add anything beyond what’s in the sales report. That’s not a surprise considering how tight-lipped automakers are about future products. We expect it’ll share its powertrain with those of the Escape and Bronco Sport, which means a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder will serve as the base offering while a larger turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder will be an available option. 

There’s a good chance that the Maverick will arrive with a sub-$20,000 price tag, which will help separate it from the Ranger that starts at nearly $25,000. Ford’s newly minted CEO Jim Farley has been vocal about offering more affordable options to consumers, though that didn’t necessarily mean lower striker prices. We won’t know more until Ford reveals the Maverick, though judging by the latest production report, we won’t have long to wait. We expect the Maverick to go on sale before the end of the year as a 2022 model.  

 

Ford begins early
production of
not-yet-announced
small pickup truck

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
March 5, 2021

A new pickup truck from Ford Motor Co. quietly began rolling off assembly lines at the Dearborn automaker's Hermosillo plant in Mexico last month, according to production data reported to shareholders this week.

The news was first reported by CNBC. The new product — dubbed "C-Pick Up" and expected to be called "Maverick" — appeared in a plant-by-plant production report accompanying the automaker's monthly U.S. sales figures. The truck is being produced at the same plant where Ford's new Bronco Sport is built. 

According to the production data, just 21 C-Pick Up units were built last month. Ford spokesman Mike Levine declined to comment beyond what's in the production report. It's long been anticipated by industry observers that Ford would introduce a compact, affordably-priced pickup truck sometime this year.

AutoForecast Solutions, a global automotive forecasting firm, expects the Hermosillo-built truck to use the same platform and some of the same powertrain components as the Bronco Sport but feature different styling, according to Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting.

The firm expects the truck to be smaller than the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup. It's likely to feature a unibody frame, four-cylinder engine, front- and all-wheel drive options, and eventually to have a hybrid version.

The truck is expected to go into full production in July. That units are being built now indicates the automaker is testing the product on the assembly line, Fiorani said, and would likely ramp up production this summer.

He expects the truck to be sold in North and South America, including in the U.S., and to eventually reach more than 100,000 units of production per year.

"We're expecting it to be priced below the Ranger, it (having) smaller engines and (being) lighter duty," he said. "It's more of a lifestyle vehicle. We're not expecting it to show up on construction sites."

Industry analysts say there is plenty of room in the market for a more affordable offering, as the average price for a new vehicle in the U.S. hovers around $40,000. 

“There’s a market for a low-priced, smaller, but highly flexible and functional pickup truck," said Karl Brauer, executive analyst for iSeeCars.com. "And I don’t think anyone is making a vehicle for that — so whoever does it first will own that market.”

The Ranger's starting price is about $25,000, while the lowest trim level of the latest model year of the F-150 is just under $29,000. But with various add-ons and more luxury-oriented trim levels, those prices can quickly climb.

If the new truck is indeed priced below the Ranger, that would put its starting price closer to $20,000 — a rarity in an SUV- and truck-heavy market in which average transaction prices have soared, shutting out some would-be entry-level buyers and driving them to the used-vehicle market or to competitors.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, upon stepping into the job in October, identified affordable vehicles as a key growth strategy. Farley at that time laid out a plan for turning around the Blue Oval's automotive operations and profitably growing the business; adding more affordable vehicles to the global lineup, including in North America, is part of that plan.

Ford has hinted that a new vehicle is in the works. In November, the automaker said it would be adding a "not-yet-named vehicle that will fill a whitespace in the market."

Brauer said, too, that the market conditions are just right for this type of addition, given the potentially appealing price point, limited offerings of smaller trucks, and strong consumer appetite for utility-type vehicles: “If you are making a new truck or a new SUV that’s never been built before, it’s as close as you’re going to get in the auto industry to a no-lose proposition right now, in terms of consumer and market demand and interest.”

The new product, he said, also speaks to the success of Bronco Sport, which launched at the end of last year: "The level of success they’ve found with that platform already bodes well for the ability to produce a compact, small pickup truck and have it still be well-received.”

 

Most Canadians could get 1st
dose of COVID-19 vaccine
by end of June

BY MICHAEL RANGER
March 4, 2021

The target date for herd immunity could be shifting forward thanks to a change in vaccine guidelines and a potential fourth vaccine on the way.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remained steadfast that all Canadians who want a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one by the fall.

But with extended intervals between the first and second doses, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) projects 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 could receive a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shot by the end of June.

On Wednesday, Trudeau acknowledged changes in public health guidance regarding the timing of second doses would likely speed up the vaccine rollout and move up the target.

Additionally, Trudeau says the timeline set by the federal government didn’t factor in the newly-approved AstraZeneca shot, or the Johnson & Johnson shot that could be approved in the coming weeks.

NACI said Wednesday that provinces can now wait up to four months before giving the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. That is up from the three week maximum first suggested when vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were first approved.

The federal body is recommending that “in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply” the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose should be maximized.

What this means for Ontario’s vaccine rollout remains unclear, but sources suggest the Ford government could provide a list of who will get vaccinated sooner by the end of the week.

“This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible and, in doing so, provide more protection to more people,” said a spokesperson from Ontario’s minister of health.

“I suspect that the government simply hasn’t made up its mind,” said epidemiologist Colin Furness to CityNews. “That’s too bad because we could have been thinking about this sooner.”

Timeline could move up even more if the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets approved.

Health Canada officials say the decision on the Johnson & Johnson shot could come in the next few weeks after the U.S. and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the shot.

All three currently approved vaccines are 100 per cent effective against death and hospitalization as a result of COVID-19, but clinical trials suggested mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) were more effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. NACI is not recommending the AstraZeneca shot for residents over 65.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones was asked who in Ontario will receive the new AstraZeneca vaccine that has a shelf life of less than a month. Jones said she’s not ready to release the details yet, but said it will go to those aged 60 to 64, and suggested it would be pharmacists doling it out.

 

Ontario won't administer
AstraZeneca COVID-19
vaccine to seniors, final
plan still in the works

Colin D'Mello
Queen's Park Bureau Chief
CTV News Toronto
March 3, 2021

TORONTO -- Ontario will limit the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 65 on the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee for Immunization (NACI), Ontario’s Health Minister confirmed, but the province is still finalizing the plan for who will be prioritized for that shot.

Christine Elliott also said the province is looking for guidance from the NACI on delaying the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by up to 16 weeks in an effort to dramatically expand the number of people receiving their initial inoculation, and suggested those recommendations will be the final key Ontario needs to unlock its plan.

“This could make a significant difference for Ontario in reducing hospitalizations and deaths,” Elliott told reporters at Queen’s Park. “As soon as we receive that [recommendation] we will be able to finalize the plan and get in front of you.”

The province is facing increasing pressure to reveal how it plans to vaccinate a broad segment of the population as it prepares to receive more than a hundred thousand doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming days.

The federal government announced 300,000 doses have been shipped from the Serum Institute of India -- putting Ontario’s per capita share at roughly 114,000 doses – all of which expire on Apr. 2.

“Right now, we're doing the calculation based on the AstraZeneca vaccine coming into the mix,” Elliott said. “This is something that we did after we got started with Pfizer and then we introduced Moderna. In the same way, we're building AstraZeneca into the plan as well.”

The quick expiration date raises questions about whether Ontario will be ready to administer the doses within the timeframe provided, given that the province’s portal to register patients for the vaccine will only be launched on Mar. 15.

Elliott told MPPs in the Ontario Legislature that the “big system” was soft-launched in select public health units on Monday because the government doesn’t want the portal to experience the type of crashes seen in Alberta and Quebec.

“We want it to be solid and to stand up to the pressure that we know is going to be coming because people are anxious to know when they’re going to be receiving the vaccine,” she said.

The NDP said the province is “unprepared” for the increased shipments of vaccines and said it was “obvious that they haven’t done their work.”

“We're literally days away from AstraZeneca arriving, why isn't the government being upfront, being clear, being transparent about what the plan is,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who added that in the absence of a detailed plan, the government should have outlined the potential options that public health units could exercise.

While some of the government’s critics say the province should be cut some slack given the federal government’s ever-evolving vaccine rollout, they say it doesn’t excuse the province’s lack of clear direction.

“There's no question that this is not an easy endeavor, vaccinating 14 million people. That's why you need to plan, because then you can adapt quickly,” said Liberal MPP John Fraser.

 

FCA guilty in labor corruption
scandal as auto industry
marks new low

Robert Snell
Breana Noble
The Detroit News
March 2, 2021

Detroit — A Fiat Chrysler U.S. executive admitted Monday the automaker conspired to break federal labor laws by paying more than $3.5 million in bribes to union leaders, marking a new stain for an auto industry beset with scandals in recent years involving vehicle emissions and faulty equipment implicated in hundreds of deaths.

In pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act, the transatlantic automaker also agreed to pay a $30 million fine to settle a criminal investigation into auto executives breaking federal labor laws. The fine is part of a broader settlement with federal authorities that includes the appointment of an independent monitor for three years to oversee company compliance with labor laws and oversee dissolution of a joint training center the United Auto Workers operated with Fiat Chrysler, now part of Stellantis NV.

The legal development ends prolonged negotiations stemming from a years-long corruption scandal involving the UAW. The federal investigation produced more than a dozen convictions and revealed union leaders and auto executives broke federal labor laws, stole union funds and received bribes and illegal benefits from union contractors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives.

The pattern of illegal payments included paying off former UAW Vice President General Holiefield's $262,000 mortgage, bankrolling a $25,000 booze-fueled bash for another labor leader and financing a $30,000 junket for UAW officials in Palm Springs and southern California. The payments were designed to secure concessions, and advantages for Fiat Chrysler during contract negotiations, according to the government.

The hearing Monday in front of U.S. District Judge Paul Borman was sterile, unconventional and anticlimactic after approximately two years of negotiations between federal prosecutors and FCA lawyers. The automaker's top lawyer, Chris Pardi, stood in as the company's representative during the virtual hearing Monday, watching with a blank, unblinking look on his face as prosecutors described crimes committed by other FCA executives during a prolonged conspiracy.

“The public thinks the companies and the UAW fight each other but just as often the companies and UAW leaders corruptly collude at the expense of the unionized workers,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School, wrote in an email to The Detroit News on Monday.

Fiat Chrysler has 60 days to nominate three candidates to serve as monitor who will serve for three years. Federal prosecutors have the right to reject the nominees until both sides agree on a monitor.

“You’re putting the fox in charge of the hen house,” John Barbosa, 50, a team leader at Stellantis’ Dundee Engine Plant, said of the monitorship included in the plea agreement. “It’s like putting police in charge of investigating the police. It don’t work. It puts on a show for people who don’t know any better.”

The guilty plea Monday obligates Fiat Chrysler officials to cooperate with ongoing investigations of corruption within the auto industry.

“If they violate the law during the term of probation, if they provide deliberately false, incomplete or misleading information or fail to retain an independent compliance monitor…, the United States could reinstate criminal charges and bring any other charges based on underlying conduct…,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Shaw said.

The News has previously revealed investigators were probing financial ties between retired UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles and one of the union's highest-paid vendors.

After the courts have dismissed class-action lawsuits brought against the automaker by other employees, Barbosa said the situation is infuriating: “We’ve been robbed of potentially thousands of dollars in income because of that; the contract talks were tainted. Nothing is going to be done opening and renegotiating those contracts.”

The $30 million fine is dramatically less than the $900 million rival General Motors Co. paid to settle claims for faulty ignition switches implicated in 400 injuries and deaths. It also is a fraction of the $800 million FCA paid two years ago to settle diesel claims, or the billions Volkswagen AG paid to atone for its global diesel scandal. 

“Instead of negotiating in good faith, FCA corrupted the collective bargaining process and the UAW members’ rights to fair representation,” Labor Department official Irene Lindow said in a statement.

Just as FCA has been found to spend millions of dollars on bribing UAW officials, “when it comes to costly environmental regulation, the companies are just as willing to put their technical expertise to work on cheating as on compliance," Gordon added.

The proposed deal was announced six weeks after prosecutors secured a separate deal with the UAW that includes prolonged oversight of the troubled union.

The conspiracy involving Fiat Chrysler executives lasted from at least January 2009 through approximately 2016 and executives paid more than $3.5 million in illegal payments to UAW officials, according to the criminal case.

That includes former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli approving the payment of $262,000 to pay off the mortgage on Holiefield’s home in Harrison Township. Holiefield died in 2015 before he could be charged with a crime.

Iacobelli, who is serving a four-year federal prison sentence, also authorized spending $25,000 for a party for UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell and members of the union’s governing board. The party included "ultra-premium" liquor, more than $7,000 worth of cigars and more than $3,000 worth of wine with custom labels honoring Jewell, who also was convicted in the corruption scandal.

Iacobelli also approved spending more than $30,000 on meals for UAW officials at restaurants in Palm Springs and southern California, prosecutors said. Money to pay for the illegal benefits came from accounts funded by the automaker that were supposed to used to pay for worker training.

The conspiracy described by prosecutors Monday included former FCA financial analyst Jerome Durden, who helped control the finances at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.

He was portrayed as a pivotal figure in the auto industry corruption scandal, helping funnel illegal payments to UAW officials involved in a labor conspiracy. He helped control the finances of a training center and was the first person charged in an ongoing prosecution that has led to 13 convictions.

 

 

Ford of Canada names
Bev Goodman as new
president and CEO

By Wheels.ca
Feb 26, 2021

Ford of Canada has named Bev Goodman as its new president and CEO.

That announcement, said that Goodman will helm the automaker immediately, replacing Dean Stoneley who has been appointed as general manager, North America truck, Ford Motor Company, a newly created position.

In a release to the media about Goodman’s appointment, Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, Americas and International Markets Group said: “During a year of extraordinary challenges, Dean led the Ford of Canada team to its twelfth consecutive year of sales leadership and now brings his agile leadership approach and strong customer focus to the critical role of maintaining Ford’s dominance in the North American truck market. At this time of rapid change in the auto industry, Bev demonstrates a deep understanding of what matters most to our customers now, and in the future. She also has a proven track record of working collaboratively with our dealer partners and a commitment to innovation as Ford accelerates its efforts to deliver high-quality, high-value vehicles and services.”

“I look forward to embracing new ways to serve our customers across the country as we introduce iconic vehicles such as the Mustang Mach-E, Bronco and F-150 hybrid,” said Goodman in a press release. “We’ll focus on delivering the benefits of electrification and connectivity to consumers, including plans for the $1.8-billion transformation of our Oakville Assembly Complex to a battery electric vehicle manufacturing facility and continuing to grow our advanced connectivity and innovation centres,”

Ford of Canada's operations include a national headquarters, three regional offices, three vehicle assembly and engine manufacturing plants, two parts distribution centres, two research and development sites, and three connectivity and innovation centres.

 

Ford, GM face big earnings
drop from chip shortfall

Bloomberg
Feb 25, 2021

The global semiconductor shortage will slash earnings at General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. by about one-third this year as supply constraints hamper production and profits, Moody’s Investor Service estimates.

The chip shortage will materially erode margins and could lower expected earnings before interest and taxes by as much as $2 billion for GM and $2.5 billion for Ford, the ratings agency said in a note published Tuesday. GM’s EBITA margin could fall to 3.4%, while Ford’s could dip as low as 1.8%, according to Moody’s.

Rising demand for the chips needed to build technologically advanced and connected vehicles has introduced a new set of challenges for the North American auto industry, with shortages triggering production cuts and temporary plant closures, Moody’s said. Demand from consumer-electronic companies exacerbated the supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Next week, Ford will idle an assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, where it builds Edge and Lincoln Nautilus sport utility vehicles. The company said that plant will shut for a week due to the chip shortage, the latest in a series of temporary shutdowns and line slowdowns caused by the lack of semiconductors.

The situation could deteriorate further after weather-related challenges in large parts of the country added to the component shortage, Bill Rinna, director of vehicle forecasts at LMC Automotive, wrote in a report on Tuesday. North American production is likely to be hit hardest in the first quarter, with pockets of disruption emerging to a lesser extent in the second quarter, he said.

LMC reduced its production forecast by more than 250,000 units, with the possibility of another 100,000 units lost, for the first quarter, Rinna said. The production loss across North America as of mid-February is estimated to exceed 190,000 units, he said.

“We do not see inventory returning to normal levels until the fourth quarter of this year, or the early part of next year,” Rinna wrote.

Earlier this month, both automakers said they could experience earnings reductions in line with what Moody's predicted Tuesday.

The short supply of semiconductors could result in a 10% to 20% production loss in the first quarter for Ford. If current estimates were projected across the first half of the year, the shortage could result in an adjusted pre-tax earnings loss of between $1 billion and $2.5 billion this year, Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said during Ford's earnings release call.

GM said during its earnings call the microchip shortage could deliver a $1.5 billion to $2 billion hit to earnings this year.

 

 

Ford announces recall
of thousands of 2021
F-150s over defect

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 24, 2021

Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced it is recalling thousands of its profit-rich F-Series trucks due to windshield defects.

The Dearborn automaker said the front windshields on certain 2021 F-150 and 2020 and 2021 Super Duty trucks "are inadequately bonded to the vehicle body structure," meaning the windshield may not stay in place during a crash. The recall affects 79,017 vehicles in the U.S. and federal territories, 6,986 in Canada and 1,347 in Mexico. 

The recall includes 2021 F-150s built at the Dearborn Truck Plant between Oct. 27 and Feb. 3, as well as Super Duty trucks built at the Kentucky Truck Plant between Oct. 13 and Jan. 23. Ford said it is unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue.

The company declined to comment on the cost of the recall.

The recall comes just months into the launch of the redesigned 2021 F-150. The pickup truck, which is alsobuilt at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri, is Ford's profit engine and the best-selling truck in the country with hundreds of thousands of units sold every year in the U.S. 

F-150 production has had disruptions in recent weeks due to a global shortage of the microchips that power the automated and electronic features of vehicles, and because of the winter storm that hit large parts of the country last week.

It's not unusual to see recalls shortly after the launch of a new vehicle, experts say.

"You want to try to get everything right before the vehicle ever launches, but it's not uncommon for automakers to still have to do some level of follow-up after the vehicle is released because there are just so many components that go into a modern car," said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com. "When you get into full production, that's when things will commonly pop up with an all-new vehicle."

Though the F-150 is a hugely important product for Ford, Brauer said a recall of this kind typically is a short-term issue for automakers.

New vehicles, he said, are some of the "more complex mass products that are out there. It can be challenging to launch an all-new vehicle without having some level of recall."

Owners of the vehicles included in the recall will begin to receive notifications from auto dealers the week of April 6, Ford said. Dealers will remove and replace the windshields. 

Ford on Monday also announced a recall for select 2020 Super Duty vehicles with 6.7-liter engines, due to the trucks having labels with incorrect payload information. The recall affects 9,979 Super Duty vehicles in the U.S. and federal territories and 1,750 in Canada and includes units built at the Kentucky Truck Plant from May 13, 2019, to Sept. 19, 2020.

Ford said it was unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue.

The recall announcement follows a separate one from last week for select Ford vehicles that may have had "obsolete" Takata parts installed in collision and theft repairs after the Takata airbag recall was completed. Ford, along with other automakers, was required to recall vehicles that contained potentially-deadly airbag inflators made by Takata, as part of a massive global recall of the defective parts.

"Ford identified that certain Takata airbag modules were not purged from service stock after the parts for the permanent service fix became available," the company said in a statement. "Following extensive investigation and tracing, Ford could not account for some of the obsolete service parts, indicating they may have been installed on vehicles as part of collision or theft repairs."

Ford also said last week that it was recalling 1,666 Bronco Sport vehicles due to those units being "produced with rear suspension modules that may not be fully secured to the subframe." The Blue Oval launched the all-new vehicle late last year.

 

Ford loses track of dangerous
air bags, forcing 2 recalls

Associated Press
Feb 23, 2021

Dearborn – Ford has lost track of some older Takata air bags that can explode and hurl shrapnel, so it’s recalling more than 154,000 vehicles in North America to check for them.

The company issued two recalls, with the largest coming because Ford can’t find 45 obsolete air bags that may have been installed on some old Ranger pickup trucks. The company says the air bags were not purged from the stock of service parts and could have been used in crash or theft repairs.

This recall covers just over 153,000 Rangers from the 2004 through 2006 model years.

In a smaller recall, Ford found just over 1,100 vehicles that may have gotten obsolete Takata air bags in collision repairs.

Included are certain 2004 through 2011 Rangers, some 2005 to 2014 Mustangs, certain 2006 Ford GTs, some 2008 through 2012 Fusions and certain 2007 through 2010 Ford Edge SUVs. Also covered are certain 2009 to 2011 Mercury Milans, some 2010 through 2012 Lincoln MKZs, and certain 2007 through 2010 Lincoln MKX SUVs.

Ford said it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by the problem. The company said it’s checking the vehicles at the request of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dealers will inspect the driver or passenger air bag units and replace them if necessary. Owners will be notified starting the week of March 8.

Takata used the volatile chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high heat and humidity and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister. The air bags have caused at least 27 deaths worldwide, including 18 in the U.S. About 400 have been injured.

The problem caused the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 67 million inflators recalled by 19 automakers. A court-appointed monitor reports that as of early January, 50 million had been repaired or were otherwise accounted for in the U.S. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

 

 

Flying back to Canada? Here’s
what you can expect at the new
COVID-19 quarantine hotels

Emerald Bensadoun
Global News
Feb 22, 2021  

The federal government has a message for Canadians: Now is not the time to travel.

On Monday, Canada's mandatory COVID-19 quarantine hotel stays will go into effect. The new rule is part of an effort to reduce non-essential travel and get ahead of the new virus variants — three of which have already been confirmed inside the country.

Anyone flying into Canada will be forced to stay in an approved hotel either in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario or Quebec while they await negative test results.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had initially touted a hefty $2,000 stay per room, but the cost is expected to be much lower and will be set by the hotels.

A spokesperson from the Hotel Association of Canada told Global News the cost of each stay will "vary between hotels, with additional fees for meals, augmented security, supervised movement to outdoor areas, designated transportation, and additional infection control measures."

However, the association added it "will continue to implement the advice of public health experts including the best practices provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for those specific hotels."

What can you expect?

Each privately owned hotel has agreed to meet operational guidelines and selection criteria set by the federal government.

Health Canada said it will allow people who own cars that have been parked at one of these airports to drive themselves there. Those without their own vehicles will be allowed to take either a designated shuttle bus, taxi or limousine.

Travellers will not be allowed to leave their rooms unless escorted by an official for monitored outdoor time, but all guests will be provided free Wi-Fi, as well as contactless meal deliveries to their door. Alcohol and cannabis are not considered essential, and won't be delivered.

Try not to make a mess: toiletries will be delivered, but there will be no room cleaning service for the duration of a guest's stay to help prevent any possible spread of infection between guests and staff members.

Masks will be mandatory for anyone staying at the hotel and will be required when speaking face-to-face with hotel staff, when opening the door to retrieve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and whenever a guest is being escorted to or from their room.

Private security firms hired by the federal government are expected to help enforce the 14-day mandatory quarantine and conduct in-person compliance visits, PHAC has said.

The agency said $2-million contracts were awarded to G4S Secure Solutions (Canada) Ltd., GardaWorld and Paladin Risk Solutions. PHAC added that the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, an organization that hires Canadian Armed Forces veterans and retired RCMP officers, was also selected to help make in-person visits.

Anyone who tests positive will be required to stay a full 14 days, either in a "federally designated quarantine facility or other suitable location."

The penalty for breaking the rules is high. The federal government said fines can go up to $3,000 for "a day of non-compliance," and breaking any quarantine or isolation rules when entering Canada could land travellers a fine of up to $750,000 or up to six months in jail.

Breaking from those requirements and causing death or serious bodily harm is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000,000 or up to three years in prison.

The federal government also outlines these guidelines on its website, here.

Where are these approved hotels?

The 14 hotels listed by the federal government are:

Alberta: Calgary International Airport (YYC)

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel

Acclaim Hotel

British Columbia: Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Fairmont Vancouver Airport

Radisson Vancouver Airport

The Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport

Ontario: Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ)

Alt Hotel Pearson Airport

Fairfield Inn & Suites Toronto Airport

Four Points by Sheraton

Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport

Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport

Quebec: Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

Aloft Montreal Airport

Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Montreal Airport

Montreal Airport Marriott In-Terminal

Will it work?

Experts say it is too soon to give a definitive "yes" or "no."

Currently, non-essential travel accounts for between 1 and 2 per cent of COVID-19 variant cases detected in Canada.

That number may seem small, but Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist with the University of Toronto, told Global News "we wouldn't have (those) variants if it wasn't for international people coming in."

He said the question of whether quarantine hotels were justified, but raised concerns that travellers would try to "game the system" and undermine the government's initiative.

"This is not the type of thing that a Canadian society would normally do, but I think the threat of the variance really changes that," he said.

"If you look at some countries that have been crazy successful like Australia and New Zealand, compared to us, quarantine has been central to their strategy."

Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner questioned PHAC representatives on Friday whether there was data that would suggest the quarantine hotels would be more effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 than quarantining at someone's home.

 

 

 

Why proper home care should
be a cornerstone of how our
health system looks after seniors

Elizabeth Niedra 
CBC News
Feb 19, 2021

The pandemic is shining an interrogative floodlight on the face of Canada's elder care system. Specifically, it has brought close scrutiny to the highly publicized circumstances in which long-term care residents have accounted for a gut-punching 55 per cent of COVID-19 related deaths in Ontario alone — 3,730 as of Feb. 18.

This data we already know; it has been the constant horror music playing behind society's collective pandemic trauma this year. The older person in long-term care has become the divisive and central figure of our pandemic response and its shortcomings. In them, we see the heart-wrenching sadness and exhaustion of this crisis writ large upon frail human form.

However, now we also understand how much attention and thoughtfully allotted resources it really takes to give our seniors the comfort and dignity they deserve. A lofty goal, when this year has felt like a panicked scramble to keep them, at bare but difficult minimum, out of emergency rooms and safe from COVID-19.

Outside of long-term care homes, much of the community response to the pandemic has focused on virtual care. This buzz-wordy concept shifts patient assessments from in-person care to telephone-, video- and app-based interactions.

These might be promising solutions for a subset of healthy, technologically literate patients, but for thousands of seniors with multiple health conditions and sensory impairments, virtual care often serves only to exacerbate their unique vulnerabilities. To say nothing of the immense work involved with elder care; the work of actually knowing an older person, understanding their needs and accompanying them on their aging journey.

For our aging older adults in crisis, virtual care is not a silver bullet.

In the space between long-term care and virtual care, however, there is home-based care. Though underfunded and understaffed, it already exists in the publicly funded health system — and it works.

Geriatrics specialist Dr. Samir Sinha says boosting the level of home care and sending fewer people to long-term care facilities is both cost-effective and the right thing to do. 0:33

The model of multidisciplinary home-based care — involving teams with a mix of specialists, such as doctors, social workers and physiotherapists — is specifically designed to help older adults age in place. These are seniors who are comparable to the long-term care population, on the metrics of age and medical disease, yet proper home-based care allows them to stay safely and comfortably in their own residence rather than moving into an institution.

A good home-care team coordinates nearly all of an older person's chronic and complex health needs, and delivers them within the safety of their chosen home. It can respond to urgent patient needs the same day, and also provide 24/7 at-home palliative care support to those who are at the end of life.

Historically, this model has helped two-thirds of its referred patients age at home, and has been shown to help reduce their re-admission to hospital by up to 29 per cent.

Home care also matters for the happiness and well-being of patients. According to a recent report from the National Institute on Aging, nearly all older people surveyed in Ontario would prefer to age in their own home rather than in a care facility.

High-quality home care also makes financial sense. At-home care for a frail older person costs the health system an average of $103 per day, according to the report, compared to $201 for someone in long-term care, and a whopping $703 daily for older adults admitted to hospital to await a permanent place.

After ten years of negotiations, Jonathan Marchand has won his fight for the home care services he needs to live outside of an institution. Guest host Alison Brunette speaks to the disabled rights activist about why he says this is a huge win for his community. 7:22

And yet, home care remains in the shadows of our provincial elder care strategy. It's often viewed culturally as an old-fashioned and folksy form of medicine, or else a fantasy approach outside the reaches of possibility for standard clinic-anchored care teams.

Housebound older people who don't have access to proper home care, for their part, are too often forgotten as a large group of vulnerable, high-needs patients. And they are unfairly viewed as burdensome crises once they do appear at the doors of the emergency room when, due to lack of proper ongoing care, their needs become acute.

In short, the care of the elderly in Canada has not failed this year because there is no solution. Excellent home-based care is a ready answer to our elder-care crisis.

However, we must radically expand upon these established models if we are to help older Canadians age in safety and dignity. Indeed, we must rewrite our health-care culture to sustainably invest in older people and address the tragedies of the threadbare elder care system that have been splashed across the headlines in recent months.

Bluntly, we must ask ourselves and our leaders whether we will elevate home care to be a cornerstone of elder care. Even more critically, will we keep the needs of the frail older person front-of-mind when they are no longer dying in heartbreaking numbers from COVID-19?

These may not be the most commonly asked questions of the current elder crisis, but they should be.

Dr. Elizabeth Niedra is a care of the elderly physician, writer, and lecturer in family medicine at the University of Toronto. She does home visits for frail older adults with SPRINT House Calls.

 

 

Ford bets $1 billion on electric
future, new EV manufacturing
facility in Germany

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 18, 2021

Amid tightening environmental regulations driving an industry-wide shift to electric vehicles, Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday detailed a major step forward in its path to an all-electric future.

The Blue Oval pledged that almost its entire European vehicle lineup would be electric in the coming years — a commitment it plans to fulfill in part by converting its Cologne, Germany, plant currently producing internal combustion engine cars into an EV manufacturing center. The automaker plans to invest $1 billion to convert the site, and the plant's first all-electric model is slated to begin rolling off assembly lines in 2023.

Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley in a statement dubbed the announcement "one of the most significant Ford has made in over a generation. It underlines our commitment to Europe and a modern future with electric vehicles at the heart of our strategy for growth."

Ford said its entire European passenger-vehicle lineup will be "zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid" by mid-2026 and all-electric by 2030. On the commercial vehicle side — the driving force behind Ford's profitability in Europe — the automaker said its lineup will be "100% zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid" by 2024. It expects two-thirds of commercial vehicle sales to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

Ford shares were down 0.26%, to $11.51, at market's close Wednesday. The dual announcements signal Ford's intention to push forward with a turnaround in Europe, including on the passenger vehicle side of the business that has proved more challenging for the automaker to crack.

In announcing its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 financial results earlier this month, Ford reported that it made its highest quarterly profit in Europe in more than four years. The results come amid an ongoing restructuring that has netted a more than $1 billion reduction in annual structural costs. Those cost savings have been achieved in part by Ford reducing its employee and plant footprint in the region.

The company also announced a near-doubling of its global investment in electrification, to $22 billion by 2025; the $1 billion investment in Cologne is part of that planned allocation. That news came on the heels of crosstown rival General Motors Co.'s pledge to exit gas- and diesel-powered engines by 2035 and be carbon neutral by 2040. GM plans to spend $27 billion on EVs and autonomous vehicles through 2025.

"We successfully restructured Ford of Europe and returned to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2020," Rowley said in a statement Wednesday. "Now we are charging into an all-electric future in Europe with expressive new vehicles and a world-class connected customer experience."

Ford of Europe remains "on track" to deliver a 6% profit margin before interest and taxes, he said. Wednesday's announcement comes amid a company-wide assessment of where to most effectively allocate capital, as part of a plan detailed by CEO Jim Farley to turn around the Blue Oval's automotive operations and hit profit goals.

Ford has announced major shakeups and investments in other regions in recent months, including a restructuring of its South America operations that includes ending manufacturing in Brazil and a $1.05 billion investment in its South Africa manufacturing operations.

The investment in Cologne — home to one of Ford's largest manufacturing centers in the region as well as its European headquarters — will be used to "modernize" the site and convert it into what will be dubbed the Ford Cologne Electrification Center. Ford said it would be the company's first such facility in the region. Currently, the Cologne plant employs more than 4,000 people and builds the Ford Fiesta.

The automaker said its first European-built, all-electric passenger vehicle, which will be sold to customers in Europe, will begin production at the facility in 2023, "with the potential for a second all-electric vehicle built there under consideration." 

In a statement, Martin Hennig, who heads up Ford of Europe's workers' council, called the move "an important signal to the entire workforce. It offers a long-term perspective for our employees and at the same time encourages them to help shape this electric future."

Ford confirmed that the first all-electric passenger vehicle it's planning for 2023 is part of its strategic alliance with Volkswagen AG, under which the two automakers have agreed to collaborate on commercial vehicles, EVs, and autonomous driving. The new vehicle will be built on VW's MEB platform.

"However, while alliance vehicles will share certain technologies under the skin, Ford's first volume all-electric passenger vehicle built using the MEB technologies will look, feel and drive every inch like a Ford," Ford spokesman John Gardiner said.

Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, a professor of automotive economics at the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, said the use of VW's technology could bring competitive advantages to Ford over its European rivals: "They are now in a position, together with VW, to be a very strong competitor to Opel, Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat."

The move on Ford's part to drastically reduce its lineup's carbon emissions comes as environmental regulations continue to tighten. Dudenhöffer noted that stronger regulations from the European Commission are slated in the coming years, making it impossible for automakers to avoid regulatory scrutiny and fees with hybrid and combustion engine vehicles alone.

Also key to its plans for the region, the Blue Oval signaled, is the incorporation of digitally-connected offerings into its commercial vehicle lineup, which leads the segment in Europe.

Ford executives have said that they see potential for lucrative new revenue streams generated by data-driven services — a direction underscored by a new strategic partnership the Blue Oval recently inked with Google. Among other areas, the two companies plan to work together on developing new tech- and data-driven offerings for customers.

Ford said it would have additional details on the Cologne site and its electrification plans to share in "the coming months."

 

Winter storm halts production at
Ford, GM plants across country

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 17, 2021

A major winter storm that was slated to hit large swaths of the country with snow, ice and freezing temperatures this week prompted Detroit automakers to pull back on production — the latest in a recent string of manufacturing disruptions that have threatened the auto industry's recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

Ford Motor Co. confirmed Monday that it had cancelled operations at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri beginning this past Saturday and continuing until Feb. 22. And General Motors Co. said it would have weather-related production impacts at four plants in Texas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The weather-related production cuts effectively are delivering a double whammy to some of the U.S industry's most profitable vehicles, as the automakers continue to navigate the deepening effects of a global microchip shortage.

"Due to unseasonably cold temperatures in the midsection of the United States, Ford was warned that the availability of natural gas could be restricted in the Kansas City area in the coming days," company spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in a statement. The decision to cancel production this week, she said, was made "to ensure we minimize our use of natural gas that is critical to heat people's homes."

Kansas City Assembly builds the F-150 pickup, Ford's cash cow. The Dearborn automaker is in the midst of launching the new 2021 model year of the truck. Kansas City also builds the Transit cargo van.

GM said Monday that it had canceled three shifts Sunday and Monday at its Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas, which builds the GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and the Cadillac Escalade.

Monday's second shift was cancelled at GM's Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky, which builds Corvettes, as well as at the automaker's Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri, which makes the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Chevy Express and GMC Savana.

And three shifts were cancelled between Sunday and Monday at GM's Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee, which builds the Cadillac XT5 and XT6, GMC Acadia, and Holden Acadia, as well as engines.

A company spokesman said Monday afternoon that the automaker still was determining how production at those facilities would be impacted going forward. During downtime, eligible union-represented auto workers receive approximately 75% of their gross pay.

Meanwhile, the auto industry continues to battle a global shortage of semiconductors, crucial components that power the automated and electronic features in vehicles. The shortage has caused a slew of production disruptions for automakers around the world, and industry experts say the crisis likely won't be resolved until the second half of the year.

In the latest hit to its manufacturing schedule, Ford cancelled an overtime shift at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville — which builds Ford F-250 through F-550 Super Duty Trucks, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator — that had been scheduled for Feb. 13.

Last week, both plants where the F-150 is built — Kansas City and Dearborn Truck Plant — operated on reduced shifts due to the shortage. The Blue Oval also has seen previous disruptions to production at facilities in Chicago, Louisville, and Ontario, as well as at plants in other global markets.

GM shut down plants in Kansas, Mexico and Canada last week because of the shortage. And Stellantis NV's Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario currently is shut down for the same reason. 

 

Ford sells stake in lidar
maker Velodyne

KEITH NAUGHTON
BLOOMBERG
Feb 16, 2021

Ford Motor Co. has sold off its stake in Velodyne Lidar Inc., a leading maker of sensors being used in the development of self-driving cars.

Ford, which invested $75 million in Velodyne in 2016, no longer held any shares as of the end of last year, according to a regulatory filing. The automaker held almost 13.1 million shares three months earlier, a holding worth $244.2 million at the end of the third quarter.

“This is consistent with our efforts to make the best, highest use of capital,” said T.R. Reid, a Ford spokesman. “We are using Velodyne technology in our autonomous vehicles.”

Velodyne last year merged with Graf Industrial Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company, and trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker VLDR. The valuation of the San Jose, Calif.-based company has been volatile since its trading debut, peaking at $4.62 billion in late December. Stock markets were closed Monday for Presidents' Day.

Ford took a stake in Velodyne six months before it invested $1 billion in self-driving startup Argo AI, led by Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander, previous leaders at autonomous teams at Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Uber Technologies Inc. Since then, Argo has developed an entire self-driving system that Ford intends to deploy commercially next year. Lidar, which bounces light off objects to assess shape and location in real time, has become key proprietary technology in the race to develop driverless vehicles.

“Our in-house lidar development effort, formed upon the acquisition of Princeton Lightwave in 2017, is going very well,” Alan Hall, an Argo spokesman, said in an email. “We will share more information about the progress at the appropriate time.”

Argo also is developing autonomous autos for Volkswagen Group, which invested $2.6 billion in the startup last year, giving it a valuation of $7 billion.

 

How Canada can capitalize on
U.S. auto sector's abrupt pivot
to electric vehicles

Canadian Press
Feb 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — The storied North American automotive industry, the ultimate showcase of Canada's high-tensile trade ties with the United States, is about to navigate a dramatic hairpin turn.

But as the Big Three veer into the all-electric, autonomous era, some Canadians want to seize the moment and take the wheel.

"There's a long shadow between the promise and the execution, but all the pieces are there," says Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association.

"We went from a marriage on the rocks to one that both partners are committed to. It could be the best second chapter ever."

Volpe is referring specifically to GM, which announced late last month an ambitious plan to convert its entire portfolio of vehicles to an all-electric platform by 2035.

But that decision is just part of a cascading transformation across the industry, with existential ramifications for one of the most tightly integrated cross-border manufacturing and supply-chain relationships in the world.

China is already working hard to become the "source of a new way" to power vehicles, President Joe Biden warned last week.

"We just have to step up."

Canada has both the resources and expertise to do the same, says Volpe, whose ambitious Project Arrow concept — a homegrown zero-emissions vehicle named for the 1950s-era Avro interceptor jet — is designed to showcase exactly that.

"We're going to prove to the market, we're going to prove to the (manufacturers) around the planet, that everything that goes into your zero-emission vehicle can be made or sourced here in Canada," he says.

"If somebody wants to bring what we did over the line and make 100,000 of them a year, I'll hand it to them."

GM earned the ire of Canadian auto workers in 2018 by announcing the closure of its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. It later resurrected the facility with a $170-million investment to retool it for autonomous vehicles.

"It was, 'You closed Oshawa, how dare you?' And I was one of the 'How dare you' people," Volpe says.

"Well, now that they've reopened Oshawa, you sit there and you open your eyes to the commitment that General Motors made."

Ford, too, has entered the fray, promising $1.8 billion to retool its sprawling landmark facility in Oakville, Ont., to build EVs.

It's a leap of faith of sorts, considering what market experts say is ongoing consumer doubt about EVs.

"Range anxiety" — the persistent fear of a depleted battery at the side of the road — remains a major concern, even though it's less of a problem than most people think.

Consulting firm Deloitte Canada, which has been tracking automotive consumer trends for more than a decade, found three-quarters of future EV buyers it surveyed planned to charge their vehicles at home overnight.

"The difference between what is a perceived issue in a consumer's mind and what is an actual issue is actually quite negligible," Ryan Robinson, Deloitte's automotive research leader, says in an interview.

"It's still an issue, full stop, and that's something that the industry is going to have to contend with."

So, too, is price, especially with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic still a long way off. Deloitte's latest survey, released last month, found 45 per cent of future buyers in Canada hope to spend less than $35,000 — a tall order when most base electric-vehicle models hover between $40,000 and $45,000.

"You put all of that together and there's still some major challenges that a lot of stakeholders that touch the automotive industry face," Robinson says.

"It's not just government, it's not just automakers, but there are a variety of stakeholders that have a role to play in making sure that Canadians are ready to make the transition over to electric mobility."

With protectionism no longer a dirty word in the United States and Biden promising to prioritize American workers and suppliers, the Canadian government's job remains the same as it ever was: making sure the U.S. understands Canada's mission-critical role in its own economic priorities.

"We're both going to be better off on both sides of the border, as we have been in the past, if we orient ourselves toward this global competition as one force," says Gerald Butts, vice-chairman of the political-risk consultancy Eurasia Group and a former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"It served us extraordinarily well in the past ... and I have no reason to believe it won't serve us well in the future."

Last month, GM announced a billion-dollar plan to build its new all-electric BrightDrop EV600 van in Ingersoll, Ont., at Canada's first large-scale EV manufacturing plant for delivery vehicles.

That investment, Volpe says, assumes Canada will take the steps necessary to help build a homegrown battery industry out of the country's rare-earth resources like lithium and cobalt that are waiting to be extracted in northern Ontario, Quebec and elsewhere.

Given that the EV industry is still in his infancy, the free market alone won't be enough to ensure those resources can be extracted and developed, he says.

"General Motors made a billion-dollar bet on Canada because it's going to assume that the Canadian government — this one or the next one — is going to commit" to building that business.

Such an investment would pay dividends well beyond the auto sector, considering the federal Liberal government's commitment to lowering greenhouse gas-emissions and meeting targets set out in the Paris climate accord.

"If you make investments in renewable energy and utility storage using battery technology, you can build an industry at scale that the auto industry can borrow," Volpe says.

Major manufacturing, retail and office facilities would be able to use that technology to help "shave the peak" off Canada's GHG emissions and achieve those targets, all the while paving the way for a self-sufficient electric-vehicle industry.

"You'd be investing in the exact same technology you'd use in a car."

There's one problem, says Robinson: the lithium-ion batteries on roads right now might not be where the industry ultimately lands.

"We're not done with with battery technology," Robinson says. "What you don't want to do is invest in a technology that is that is rapidly evolving, and could potentially become obsolete going forward."

Fuel cells — energy-efficient, hydrogen-powered units that work like batteries, but without the need for constant recharging — continue to be part of the conversation, he adds.

"The amount of investment is huge, and you want to be sure that you're making the right decision, so you don't find yourself behind the curve just as all that capacity is coming online."

 

 

Autoworkers face dimmer future
in a new era of electric cars

Tom Krisher and
John Seewer
Associated Press
Feb 12, 2021

Toledo, Ohio – When General Motors boldly announced its goal last month to make only battery-powered vehicles by 2035, it didn’t just mark a break with more than a century of making internal combustion engines. It also clouded the future for 50,000 GM workers whose skills – and jobs – could become obsolete far sooner than they knew.

The message was clear: As a greener U.S. economy edges closer into view, GM wants a factory workforce that eventually will build only zero-emissions vehicles.

It won’t happen overnight. But the likelihood is growing that legions of autoworkers who trained and worked for decades to build machines that run on petroleum will need to do rather different work in the next decade – or they might not have jobs.

If the history-making shift from internal combustion to electric power goes as GM, Ford and others increasingly envision, jobs that now involve making pistons, fuel injectors and mufflers will be supplanted by the assembly of lithium-ion battery packs, electric motors and heavy-duty wiring harnesses.

Many of those components are now built overseas. But President Joe Biden has made the development of a U.S. electric vehicle supply chain a key part of his ambitious plan to create 1 million more auto industry jobs with electric vehicles.

Yet for workers at GM and other automakers, that future could be perilous. The more environmentally focused plants of the future will need fewer workers, mainly because electric vehicles contain 30% to 40% fewer moving parts than petroleum-run vehicles. In addition, many of the good union jobs that have brought a solid middle-class lifestyle could shift to lower pay as automakers buy EV parts from supply companies or form separate ventures to build components.

Most vulnerable in the transition will be the roughly 100,000 people in the United States who work at plants that make transmissions and engines for gas and diesel vehicles.

They are people like Stuart Hill, one of 1,500 or so workers at GM’s Toledo Transmission Plant in Ohio. At 38 years old and a GM employee for five years, Hill is still decades from retirement. The future of the plant and his role in it worries him.

“It’s something that’s in the back of my mind,” Hill said. “Are they going to shut it down?”

He and others hope that Toledo will be among the sites where GM will build more EV parts. If not, he’d be open to moving to some other plant to continue to earn a solid wage; top-scale workers represented by the United Auto Workers are paid around $31 an hour.

Yet there is hardly assurance that automakers will need as many workers in the new EV era. A United Auto Workers paper from two years ago quotes Ford and Volkswagen executives as saying that EVs will reduce labor hours per vehicle by 30%.

“There are just less parts, so of course it stands to reason that there is going to be less labor,” said Jeff Dokho, research director for the UAW.

“We’re sort of at the beginning of that transition,” said Teddy DeWitt, an assistant professor of management at University of Massachusetts Boston who studies how jobs evolve over time. “It’s not going to be just in the vehicle space.”

The number of industry jobs that will be lost in the transition will likely reach into the thousands, though no one knows with any precision. And those losses will made up, at least in part, by jobs created by a greener economy, from work involved in building electric vehicle parts and charging stations to jobs created by wind and solar electricity generation.

Indeed, the most far-reaching change in manufacturing since the commercial production of internal combustion-driven vehicles began in 1886 will ripple out to farm equipment, heavy trucks and even lawnmowers, snow blowers and weed-whackers. The oil and gas industries could suffer, too, as the fading of the internal combustion engine shrinks demand for petroleum.

At the century-old transmission plant in Toledo, GM workers make sophisticated six-, eight-, nine- or 10-speed gearboxes. Eventually, those parts will be replaced by far simpler single-speed drivetrains for electric vehicles. Especially for workers low on the seniority list, GM’s plans for an “all-electric future” mean that eventually, their services will likely no longer be needed.

“This is that moment to define where we go in the future,” said Tony Totty, president of the UAW local at the Toledo plant. “This is a time we need to ask ourselves in this country: What are we going to do for manufacturing? Is manufacturing dead in our country?”

Those worries already were in the air when Biden made an October campaign stop at the Toledo union hall. Totty delivered a letter imploring the candidate “not to forget about the people getting the job done today.”

Even though fully electric vehicles now constitute less than 2% of U.S. new vehicle sales, automakers face intense pressure to abandon internal combustion engines as part of a global drive to fight climate change. California will ban sales of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. European countries are imposing bans or strict pollution limits. Biden, as part of a push for green vehicles, pledged to build a half-million charging stations and convert the 650,000-vehicle federal fleet to battery power.

At the moment, though, American motorists have other ideas. They continue to spend record amounts on larger gasoline vehicles. With average pump prices close to a $2 a gallon, trucks and SUVs have replaced more efficient cars as the nation’s primary mode of transportation. In January, roughly three-fourths of new-vehicle sales were trucks and SUVs. A decade ago, it was only half.

All that demand will still keep Toledo in business for years. Yet there’s little doubt that the move to electricity is inexorable. About 2.5 million electric vehicles were sold worldwide last year. IHS Markit expects that figure to increase 70% this year alone. In December, there were 22 fully electric models on sale in the United States; Edmunds.com expects that figure to reach 30 this year. GM alone has pledged to invest $27 billion on 30 EV models worldwide by 2025.

The acceleration of the trend has heightened anxiety even at plants that are now running flat-out to meet demand for GM trucks.

“It definitely scares me,” said Tommy Wolikow, a worker at GM’s heavy-duty pickup assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, who has worked eight years for GM. “I think that eventually there’s a good chance that I might not be able to retire from this plant.”

Depending on how fast consumers embrace electric vehicles, Wolikow fears he could be bumped out of his job by employees with more seniority. Workers already are starting to vie for jobs at three plants that GM has designated as electric vehicle assembly sites, two in the Detroit area and one in Tennessee.

In the meantime, GM says it needs its full factory workforce as it rebuilds inventory depleted by a coronavirus-related factory shutdown last spring.

“We have to run our current core business smart and strong, because that will ultimately allow us to invest in this all-electric future,” spokesman Dan Flores said. “There’s no way we can speculate on the future of any individual facility.”

Not all internal combustion-related jobs will vanish in the transition. GM excluded heavier trucks in its EV goal. And some manufacturers will keep making gas-electric hybrids, said Kristin Dziczek, a vice president at the Center for Auto Research, an industry think tank.

It’s unclear what will happen to workers at GM or other automakers who might be squeezed out in the transition. In the past, GM has protected some workers in periods of downsizing. When it closed an assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in 2019, for example, laid-off workers were given a chance to transfer to other plants. And when GM shuttered factories heading into a 2009 bankruptcy, laid-off employees received buyout and early retirement packages.

The UAW says it views the transformation to electricity as potentially less a threat than an opportunity for growth. Dokho suggested, for example, that the Biden administration could offer incentives to build more EV parts here.

“We’re optimistic about making sure that there are jobs in the future, and that the jobs there now are protected,” he said.

Every major industrial transformation, DeWitt said, has tended to result in both lost jobs and new work. He noted, for example, that when Americans migrated from farms to cities after the Civil War, agricultural jobs dwindled. But cities were wired for electricity, and jobs such as electricians were created.

If the automakers are willing, DeWitt said, most of their workers could be retrained to move from gas vehicles to electric parts and vehicle assembly.

“It feels unlikely to me that all of that knowledge we have built up in that workforce for the past 50 years is all of the sudden completely useless,” he said.

The protection of jobs seems sure to be a top issue in the next round of UAW contract talks in 2023, and workers will especially want to preserve higher-wage positions. GM and other automakers now view battery manufacturing as a parts-supply function with lower pay.

The automaker is building a battery factory in Lordstown in a venture with South Korea’s LG Chem. CEO Mary Barra has said that workers there will be paid less than those at vehicle assembly plants, to keep costs closer to what competing automakers will pay.

The 2023 contract bargaining could be even more contentious than it was two years ago, when a 40-day UAW strike cost GM $3.6 billion.

Indeed, the reckoning between GM and the union may come sooner than anticipated, said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at the CarExpert.com website. Automakers, he said, generally work on vehicles five to seven years ahead of when they go on sale.

“You could make the argument that by 2028, they’re not going to be doing any more development on internal combustion engine vehicles,” he said. “Which starts to sound much closer than 2035.”

 

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor
pickup revealed with
new suspension and tech

Third-generation F-150 Raptor is the most capable ever

By Gary Gastelu 
 Fox News
Feb 11, 2021

Ford President Kumar Galhotra talks to Fox News Autos Editor Gary Gastelu about the new F-150 Raptor and Ford's upcoming electrification plans.

After taking a brief hiatus as Ford rolls out its redesigned F-150 lineup, the high-performance Raptor will soon return for 2021.

The off-road pickup revealed on Wednesday has received significant changes that include the first five-link, coil-spring rear suspension ever featured on an F-150.

Ford said it is based on the ones used by trophy trucks that compete in races like the Baja 1000 and provides 15 inches of rear-wheel travel for high speed off-road driving and jumps to go with the 14 inches available up front.

The Raptor, which is only available in a four-door SuperCrew configuration this time around, also gets all of the new technology that was launched with the 2021 F-150, including the ability to receive over-the-air updates, Ford’s hands-free Active Drive Assist highway driving aid and an optional Pro Power Onboard 2.0-kilowatt built-in generator.

An optional 360-degree camera system provides a front view with guidelines to help place your front tires while maneuvering on rough trails, where you can use a new one-pedal drive system that automatically engages the brakes as you lift off the accelerator to make it easier to modulate speed in challenging situations.

One thing that’s not very different is the engine that pedal is connected to, which remains a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 delivering 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, according to Ford President Kumar Galhotra, that breathes through a new exhaust system equipped with active bypass valves that can turn up the volume. A 10-speed automatic is standard and the only transmission available.

But wait, there’s more!

After being king of the hill over its first decade of existence, the Raptor finally has direct competition in the form of the Ram 1500 TRX, which offers similar off-road chops along with a 702 hp supercharged V8 that makes it the most powerful pickup ever made. Galhotra told Fox News Autos that power isn’t primarily what Raptor customers are looking for, but if any of them want more they’ll soon be able to get it.

Later this year Ford will reveal the Raptor R, which will have a V8 under the hood. Galhotra won’t reveal any details about it just yet, but there have been rumors that it will be based on the Mustang Shelby GT500’s 760 hp supercharged 5.2-liter V8, which could make the Raptor a TRX-beating beast.

Pricing for the Raptor will be announced closer to when it hits showrooms this summer, but the previous 2020 SuperCrew model started at $57,785.

 

GM hourly workers expected to
get $9,000 profit-sharing checks
for pandemic-marred 2020

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Feb 10, 2021

Detroit — General Motors Co. hourly United Auto Workers-represented employees could receive up to $9,000 in profit sharing checks this year.

GM said 44,000 eligible hourly employees would be eligible for the profit-sharing, which will be paid the week of Feb. 26. Last year, GM hourly employees received an $8,000 payout.

The Detroit automaker, which made $6.4 billion last year, announced profit-sharing as part of its full-year 2020 earnings report released Wednesday. Profit-sharing is based on GM's profits in North America, which totaled $9 billion last year. For every a billion made in North America, employees get $1,000, according to GM's contract with the United Auto Workers.

"Despite a year of a pandemic and loss of production in 2020, General Motors reported a solid profit for North America," UAW Vice President and Director Terry Dittes of the General Motors Department said in statement. "This is a testament to our UAW-GM Membership, who produce some of the finest and most sought-after vehicles in the world, right here in the U.S.A.”

Ford Motor Co.'s 2020 profit-sharing payouts will be up to $3,625, down roughly 45% from the year before. The payments will be made in March. In 2020, Ford paid up to $6,600 to 53,000 eligible employees.

 

UAW Ford workers can expect
profit-sharing payouts down 45%

Jordyn Grzelewski
Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Feb 9, 2021

Ford Motor Co.'s 2020 profit-sharing payouts of up to $3,625 for eligible hourly United Auto Workers members will be down roughly 45% from the year before, the automaker said Thursday.

The lower payments, to be made in March, are a direct consequence of the eight-week manufacturing shutdown last spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic that walloped the top and bottom lines of Ford and its rivals.

In 2020, Ford paid up to $6,600 to 53,000 eligible employees, the smallest payout of the Detroit Three automakers.

"I didn’t think we were going to get one," Brad Crozier, 56, who works at Ford's Sterling Axle Plant, said of the smaller checks this year, "just because we’ve been off work for so long. Anything is better than nothing."

The Dearborn automaker, in the midst of launching the newest edition of its iconic F-150 pickup and increasing investment in development of next-generation electric vehicles, announced the payouts as part of its report on full-year and fourth-quarter 2020 financial results. 

The profit-sharing checks are part of the automaker's collective bargaining agreement with the UAW. The amount is based on the company's $3.625 billion North America pre-tax profits.

"Like all sectors, the 2020 pandemic caused many challenges in our industry," UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement. "And while profit sharing for UAW members may not be what we are used to, our members-negotiated benefit has preserved profit sharing checks even during a dark year when many other employers may be reluctant to share in profits."

A Ford spokesperson could not immediately say Thursday how many UAW workers would be eligible for the 2020 payouts. Rivals General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV will announce their profit-sharing amounts when they report full-year earnings on Wednesday and on March 3, respectively.

GM paid 44,000 UAW members up to $8,000 in profit sharing last year. Stellantis' predecessor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which calculates its profit-sharing differently, awarded bonuses of up to $7,280 to roughly 44,000 workers.

 

"A call to arms"
Canada Stuggles
to get Vaccines

Inside Canada’s impossibly high-stakes rush to lock down tens of millions of doses of the most sought-after product on Earth

Nick Taylor-Vaisey
Macleans
February 6, 2021

When Agnes Mills was a young teenager, she battled tuberculosis for three years in a hospital in Aklavik, a remote hamlet nestled in the Mackenzie River delta north of the Arctic Circle. She contracted the disease when an epidemic hit the residential school where she lived. She led a solitary existence at the Anglican-run school known as All Saints, separated from her mother, who lived nearby. She was a long way from Old Crow, the tiny Vuntut Gwich’in community in Yukon where she grew up and her grandfather was chief.

Mills, now nearly 85 years old, calmly explains those devastating formative years in Aklavik. She was sexually abused by older girls at the school. An extended hospital stay offered a break from All Saints, but Mills says she received little education.

Eventually, Mills moved south. She lived in Edmonton and Kenora, Ont., before settling in Ottawa where she was the executive director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She worked in government for a decade before returning north, where she was an Elder adviser of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Last year, Mills received the Order of Yukon.

Now she lives at Whistle Bend Continuing Care Facility in Whitehorse. Dementia is creeping into her life, and most of a year without seeing her grandchildren has been excruciating. “It’s a very lonely time. You’re all by yourself in this little room,” she says.

On Jan. 4, Yukon started immunizing high-risk residents with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Mills, a survivor of so much hardship, was at the front of the line.

About 50 residents and staff at the Whistle Bend home got their first shots that day. The 150-bed facility has managed to avoid an outbreak since last March—a feat matched by every other home in Yukon, where only 70 cases have been reported across the entire territory.

Dozens of long-term care facilities across Canada haven’t been nearly as fortunate. Of the roughly 20,000 Canadians who succumbed to COVID-19 in the pandemic’s first 11 months, nearly 9,000 were residents of long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec—a grim number that climbs daily.

As new, more easily transmissible variants of the disease threaten to spread quickly among vulnerable communities in Canada, the need for widespread vaccinations has never been more urgent.

Mills’ single inoculation was an early milestone in Canada’s desperate, stubborn quest for normalcy—a remarkable but still infinitesimally small step in a massive immunization campaign, the largest in Canadian history, meant to beat COVID-19.

That campaign needs doses, and a federal bureaucracy upended by the pandemic has been duking it out with the richest countries in the world for what is now the hottest commodity on the planet. Without the ability to produce COVID-19 vaccines at home, Ottawa is bargaining with a powerful pharmaceutical industry that holds all of the cards. And the feds are racing against the clock. Every day without vaccines means more sickness, tragedy and preventable death.

Bergstedt moved to Moderna after nearly 20 years at Merck (Photograph by Kayana Szymczak)

June 1 was Patrick Bergstedt’s first day on the job as Moderna’s senior vice-president of commercial vaccines. Bergstedt is an affable South African, who was based in the small town of New Hope, Penn., at the time. Like so many of us, his office was in his home, and he was making deals over Webex.

“I was commercial person number one,” he tells Maclean’s, describing the emerging biotech player as a “tiny little company that had never sold anything in its life.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Moderna was developing a wide variety of products, but had yet to make a sale.

Bergstedt came from Merck, a pharmaceutical giant where he spent nearly 20 years and gained familiarity with Canada’s health system, which he viewed as “very progressive” on vaccinations. “You can have vaccines sitting in a warehouse, but it’s about vaccines in arms,” he says. “That’s what’s important.”

For all his years in the business, Bergstedt had no idea who to call north of the border about COVID vaccines. On June 11, as global interest in Moderna’s mRNA vaccine was starting to pick up, a serendipitous email landed in Bergstedt’s inbox from a couple of Canadians.

Bergstedt might have expected to hear from a scientist or procurement officer, but it was friendly neighbourhood diplomats who came calling. Valérie La Traverse and Carolin McCaffrey, a senior trade commissioner and an investment officer at Canada’s consulate in Boston, reached out to learn about the fledgling company’s vaccine and gauge interest in potential expansion to Canada.

“There is a God,” thought Bergstedt.

In Ottawa, it was all hands on deck—even Global Affairs Canada had been pressed into duty to work contacts that might kick-start vaccine talks or dredge up some leads.

Within a week, Bergstedt was on a call with then-consul general David Alward. On June 26, he was back on a video conference with representatives of Health Canada; the Public Health Agency; Innovation, Science and Economic Development; and Public Services and Procurement. They peppered him with questions about clinical data and potential supply. “I’ve been on many calls with many different countries,” he says. “But I have never had a call that big, representing so many branches of government.” Bergstedt recalls that Moderna’s reps all had their webcams turned on. The federal officials, he notes, kept theirs off.

In these early conversations, Moderna’s vaccine was promising, but unproven. The company had created the vaccine in 42 days and dosed the first test subject three weeks later.

“At that time, we had no clinical data,” says Bergstedt. “We had this early, experimental phase 1 data that says this vaccine produces an immune response. We had no data on efficacy or safety.”

Even to Bergstedt, the eager salesman, getting the vaccines into arms before the end of the year seemed an impossible task.

Within days of Moderna connecting with Ottawa, Mark Lievonen was sitting in his condo in Stouffville, Ont., when he pulled out his iPad and logged onto Zoom. For many years, Lievonen had been the president of the Canadian vaccine division of Sanofi, a pharmaceutical giant. Now he joined Joanne Langley, a Dalhousie University professor and head of infectious diseases at Halifax’s IWK Health Centre, as co-chair of the federal COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force (VTF).

As the pandemic’s first wave was slowly subsiding in hard-hit Ontario and Quebec at the end of May, Lievonen and Langley were invited to head up the group. They were asked, says Langley, to serve their country. “When you get a letter like that, you just say yes.”

The federal government assembled an initial group of 12 core task force members, including epidemiologists, physicians, manufacturing specialists and industry insiders, with orders to recommend safe and effective vaccines the feds should buy in large quantities—a daunting assignment, since none of the leading candidates were anywhere near a sure thing. “As we were about to begin, I thought, this is a mind-boggling, important task,” says Lievonen. “What if we fail? That was in the back of my mind.”

A few weeks before the task force got to work, Lievonen had made a presentation—by Zoom, of course—to a public COVID-19 webinar at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He cautioned his audience that a novel coronavirus vaccine could take well over a decade to produce. Some observers had pegged 12 to 18 months as the fastest possible time frame, which Lievonen recalls was “still far beyond anything I would have thought at that point.”

Starting in June, the task force quietly invited manufacturers of most of the leading candidates to make presentations. (The panel’s existence would not be made public until August—and even now the government is reluctant to talk about it.)

“Most members were logging full-time hours, particularly through July and August,” says Lievonen. They liked what they heard from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Medicago, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline—and eventually recommended that Public Services and Procurement Canada, headed up by rookie cabinet minister Anita Anand, pursue supply agreements with all of them.

While those experts toiled in obscurity, the government’s critics were already beginning to raise the alarm about a weak link in the federal procurement strategy. Other countries, like the U.K. and the U.S., had plans to manufacture vaccines by the millions on their own soil, but Canada did not; nor could it rely on American supply chains, which Washington had reserved for domestic supply.

Canadians, it turned out, would be entirely at the mercy of European-made drugs.

By early August, Brad Sorenson had been waiting to hear back from Ottawa for several months. Before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in March, the president of Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics had started talks with the feds on a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine. But he was starting to feel impatient.

As far back as February, Sorenson conferred with his scientific advisory board about the novel coronavirus. It was clear to them life was about to be disrupted in a big way. The company had been working on cancer vaccines but decided to pivot to COVID-19.

Sorenson spent part of March in Hawaii for his father’s 80th birthday. He returned to Alberta just before lockdown, and convened an emergency meeting on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine that used mRNA—the same technology as Pfizer and Moderna’s product. Within weeks, Providence took a preliminary plan to Health Canada. The bureaucrats were “responsive” and eager to learn more. At that point, Sorenson estimates his company trailed Moderna’s progress by only a couple of months.

By April, Providence had submitted a formal proposal to the federal Strategic Investment Fund that sought $35 million for clinical trials. Then the waiting began. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. On Aug. 17, the day before the Liberals prorogued Parliament, Sorenson heard back. The feds had turned down the proposal, saying Providence wasn’t far enough along to meet the requirement for funding. Eventually, the company scored a few million dollars for clinical trials from the National Research Council (NRC). Sorenson admits he was angry at the time. “This was no warp speed,” he says. “This is turtle speed.”

As Sorenson waited, his proposal started to look like a missed opportunity for a federal government desperate for domestic vaccine production.

China’s CanSino was Canada’s big early bet on making a vaccine domestically. Attached to the plan was $44 million for upgrades to the NRC’s Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montreal. That plant was meant to eventually produce CanSino’s vaccine candidate, Ad5-nCoV.

The plan fell through when Chinese customs officials prevented the shipment of test vaccines from leaving the country. Documents tabled in Parliament in January revealed the feds were aware of the blocked shipment just days after the CanSino deal was announced in May. Exactly why the shipment was blocked remains a mystery, though the Chinese didn’t kibosh similar exports to other countries. Canada’s bet on CanSino angered the government’s critics, including the opposition Conservatives, who cast the Liberals as naive for partnering with a Chinese firm in the middle of a deep freeze in bilateral relations.

But if not CanSino, could the NRC lab be used to produce another company’s more promising candidate? Other countries had plans to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine on their own soil. Why, critics wondered, hadn’t Canada negotiated a similar licensing agreement?

The Liberals insisted that was impossible at the time. A spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada says when the feds were doing deals, the country “had no flexible large-scale bio-manufacturing capacity suitable for a COVID-19 vaccine.” Canada hasn’t had a publicly funded lab that mass-produces vaccines since the ’80s, and no big private labs have the technology in place to make mRNA vaccines. Both of the largest pharma facilities in Canada—GlaxoSmithKline’s plant in Quebec City and Sanofi’s operation in Toronto—would have had to build entirely new facilities in order to produce a vaccine like AstraZeneca’s, says Andrew Casey, the president of pharmaceutical lobby group BIOTECanada.

In August, Ottawa committed $126 million over two years for a new NRC bio-manufacturing facility in Montreal. It said at the time the new facility would, as early as this coming July, be equipped to produce up to two million doses a month of several kinds of COVID-19 vaccines—including the viral vector technology used by AstraZeneca and the protein subunit technology used by Novavax. (That projected date would prove to be wildly optimistic.)

The feds could also have given Providence a shot. Sorenson laments what could have been with that $35-million injection last year. Providence, which is currently running phase 1 clinical trials, might have been much further down the line.

CanSino, meanwhile, found a new locale to test its vaccine: Russia.

Canada’s hope for nailing down contracts for vaccines now rested with a tiny group of bureaucrats, just 10 to 20 people working from home in and around Ottawa—and Oakville, Ont., where Procurement Minister Anita Anand spent the summer.

“You have to keep it small because we put our best negotiators on the table,” explains Arianne Reza, the associate deputy minister for procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

They were a seasoned team already battle-tested by months of pandemic scrambling, says Reza. The department was just emerging from the springtime rush for personal protective equipment and testing supplies. They were buying billions of products seemingly on the fly. “You normally do business with pre-qualified, trusted suppliers. All of a sudden, we were in the thick of it, buying masks and gloves,” says Reza. “So much complexity. So much risk.”

At one point, when Reza turned to procuring all the supplies for immunization—syringes, vials, stoppers and swabs—she picked up the phone and called a vendor out of the blue. “That person was very suspicious of getting cold-called by the Government of Canada to offer them a contract,” she says. “I had to go through many layers, many verifications, to convince them I was the real deal.”

The feds bought up to two billion pieces of PPE, 40 million rapid tests, 145 million syringes and 126 cold and ultra-cold storage freezers. Even so, the negotiations for vaccines was a whole new game.

Anand, a lawyer and professor who specialized in corporate governance before entering politics, explained the intricacies of vaccine deal-making. “It’s not simply a matter of distributing standard-form contracts and having vaccine suppliers agree to our preferred terms,” the procurement minister tells Maclean’s. “Each supplier has its own set of concerns. As a result, each agreement is bespoke and contains terms related to doses and price and manufacturing and finishing parameters of each vaccine.” The manufacturers, keen to see doses actually administered, were lured in part by Canada’s strong public health network and widespread embrace of vaccination.

Reza said Canada enjoyed certain advantages. “The reputation of having a first-rank regulator made it easy to attract them to the table,” she says. A senior government source familiar with vaccine procurement planning says Canada faced a “middle power issue”—wielding more influence than most countries, but offering smaller orders than the U.S. or European Union. Reza took the opposite view, arguing that Canada’s comparatively modest needs “wouldn’t add a huge burden” to manufacturers’ supply chains.

In the case of Moderna, Bergstedt says negotiations involved “tough conversations” that stretched late into the night and into weekends as the two sides haggled over the timing of supply and the volume of doses. The Canadians were “efficient,” he says; it had been more of a challenge to pin down negotiations with EU customers. Moderna knew the whole planet, including Canadians, were watching closely. “Building a relationship of transparency and trust is critical for us in a world in which people are very cynical about pharma in general,” says Bergstedt.

On July 24, Canada inked an advance supply agreement with Moderna. The feds announced other deals: Pfizer on Aug. 5, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax on Aug. 31, GlaxoSmithKline on Sept. 22, AstraZeneca on Sept. 25 and Medicago on Oct. 23.

By early fall, Canada seemed to be sitting pretty, having secured up to 398 million potential vaccine doses between seven companies, the world’s most diverse portfolio and more doses per capita than any other nation on Earth.

Some questioned Ottawa’s refusal to discuss the fine print of those deals—what was Canada paying and what did the contracts say about Canada’s place in the global pecking order? Canada was one of the first countries to lock down deals with Moderna and Pfizer, but was much later than some of its rivals to sign with other companies. Could that affect deliveries?

“Staking out the back of the queue means that we might beg for a little vaccine in a hurry for our health-care workers or most vulnerable,” Amir Attaran, a biomedical scientist and lawyer at the University of Ottawa, wrote in Maclean’s last summer. But ordinary Canadians should “expect to wait.”

Procurement Canada’s official line was the feds “cannot disclose details of specific agreements in order to protect Canada’s negotiating position and commercially sensitive pricing information, as well as to respect confidentiality clauses in the vaccine agreements made to date.”

Nevertheless, early doses would soon begin arriving, and months ahead of anyone’s wildest expectations.

Four days after Moderna’s vaccine was approved on Dec. 23, a FedEx delivery arrived in Whitehorse. Similar deliveries would happen over Christmas in all three territories.

Benton Foster, Yukon’s director of community health programs, said his team “first started hearing rumblings” about the distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in early November, before either was approved. The feds were hinting at first-quarter deliveries in 2021, which Yukon officials initially interpreted as aligning with their fiscal year—meaning they’d see delivery in April. They soon realized Ottawa was talking about the calendar year. “Everyone was kind of in disbelief that it would happen,” says Foster.

The rollout required a big country like Canada, with so many rural and remote communities, to reckon with monumental logistical questions. Former military leaders, known for their mastery of rules and promptness, emerged as obvious choices to lead the effort. The feds enlisted Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to coordinate federal-provincial co-operation. Ontario turned to Rick Hillier, Canada’s chief of the defence staff during the height of the war in Afghanistan. UPS and FedEx unveiled advanced tracking technology that monitored every shipment from Europe.

But a less hopeful Christmas story was unfolding in Ontario, where the real challenge with the vaccine rollout was proving to have little to do with logistics.

On Boxing Day, health-care workers in Ontario took to social media in protest after the province stopped vaccinations for a short period over the holidays. Observers also noted a significant drop in injections on weekends. At a time when more than 100 people in Ontario were dying every day in an out-of-control second wave, a pause in vaccinations looked as absurd as firefighters leaving a five-alarm blaze for a lunch break.

A source close to Ontario’s rollout team stood by the province’s strategy, arguing that health-care workers desperately needed a holiday break, and the province was ratcheting down weekend appointments largely to prevent no-shows that would result in thawed doses going to waste.

But a bigger problem still was emerging across the country. Most provinces’ hastily prepared immunization programs started to outpace shipments from Pfizer and Moderna by January. Several provinces worried they’d run out of doses before they could administer second shots within the roughly three-week time frames recommended by Pfizer and Moderna.

The Liberals were nevertheless sticking to their guns. Negotiators had secured four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and two million doses of Moderna’s product, guaranteed before the end of March. And Canada would still get those doses, they promised.

The truth was that the numbers were now out of the government’s control.

In mid-January, Pfizer announced a temporary slowdown in production as the company retooled its facility in Puurs, Belgium. Christina Antoniou, a company spokeswoman, acknowledged at the time that “fluctuations in orders and shipping schedules” would impact deliveries “in the immediate future.”

A few days later, the Liberals dropped a bomb. Pfizer would send no shipments to Canada in the last week of January. Federal officials claimed every country would receive fewer doses, and that they expected “equity” from Pfizer. But exports to EU members never hit zero.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country emerged as a global vaccination leader, boasted of a dozen phone calls with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Suddenly, everybody was calling Pfizer Canada’s president, Cole Pinnow. Doug Ford called him up. Erin O’Toole picked up the phone and then demanded Trudeau call Bourla—which he did.

Anand maintains “very close contact” with Pinnow. “I text with him regularly,” she says, adding that she spoke to him every day the week Pfizer announced reductions. Moderna gets the same treatment. Patricia Gauthier, the company’s country manager for Canada, says phone calls certainly don’t hurt. “Everybody’s looking at how can we accelerate? What can we do? I understand people are anxious.”

On Jan. 29, Moderna also announced a temporary reduction in shipments to Canada.

Amid the uncertainty, NDP MP Don Davies, the party’s health critic, joined the Tories in pressuring the Liberals to release at least some of the terms and conditions of their contracts, as the U.S. had already done. “I’m very suspicious of a government that’s gone through such Herculean efforts to resist that. What are they hiding?” he asks. “Deliveries are probably contingent on a lot of factors that are out of the government’s control.”

Moderna’s Bergstedt offers that the company will face penalties if it misses its first-quarter obligations. “The government has held the industry responsible for keeping its commitments,” he said. “We’ve not been given a blank cheque.”

In the middle of the zero-delivery week, Canada’s place in the queue took yet another potentially disastrous hit when the EU, angry with U.K.-based AstraZeneca for reducing its planned supply, threatened export controls. Trudeau told reporters that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had assured him EU protectionism wouldn’t affect Canadian imports. But Canada was absent from a list of exempt countries.

The limited supply of approved vaccines meant that one country’s gain was necessarily another’s loss. That contagious vaccine nationalism threatened to launch a supply chain cold war.

At the end of the month, Canada’s sputtering vaccine effort ranked 20th in the world, behind countries like Spain, Hungary and Estonia.

In early February, Canada announced a new plan to manufacture Novavax doses in Montreal, beginning in 2022—months after the initial vaccination campaign is supposed to wrap up at the end of September. In the likely event new variants require new or modified vaccines, Canada will be ready.

But Canadians will surely be looking enviously at countries that will ramp up much sooner. Australia will be pumping out AstraZeneca doses by the millions domestically as soon as that shot is approved. Japan plans to manufacture up to 90 million doses of the same vaccine.

Domestic production and licensing agreements increasingly seem to be the path to speedy vaccinations. The U.S. is ramping up quickly, having administered 32 million vaccines by February, three times Canada’s per capita rate. At the same time, the U.K. was at five times Canada’s rate.

Israel bet on closer ties with Pfizer, agreeing to hand over anonymized biometric data in exchange for early doses—a deal that raises serious privacy concerns but has also seen five million shots administered in a month. It’s already seeing sickness declining among those over 60.

Canada’s solution in the absence of an ability to manufacture vaccines was an impressive shopping spree—we out-purchased everyone in the world. In February, along with AstraZeneca’s imminent approval, both Novavax and Johnson & Johnson published clinical data that showed promise. Canada had secured up to 134 million doses of those three vaccines. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine could on its own be a game-changer.

Still, at this writing at the beginning of February, the hole in Canada’s plan has been deepening by the day, as the rollout falls further and further behind other developed countries. Can Canada catch up? Maybe. If supply disruptions don’t sink the government’s planned ramp-up in April, Canada would need to administer more than 300,000 shots per day before the end of September to inoculate most Canadians. That’s orders of magnitude more than the current peak this year of 48,195 on Jan. 15. But, again, if the deliveries that Canada’s devoted team of bureaucrats lined up last spring start landing as planned, the pieces are in place to get doses into arms in community halls, arenas and pharmacies across the nation.

The priority for now remains long-term care homes, where new, more transmissible COVID variants have started to creep in. More than 50 people died at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., in January. The province planned to immunize every resident and worker in high-risk long-term care homes by Feb. 15.

Ontario hopes to extend its rollout to other high-risk populations—those over 80 years old, front-line workers and Ontarians with high-risk conditions—in March. In August, it will open up to anyone who wants a shot. British Columbia is hoping to broaden beyond high-risk populations by July. In a “high-supply scenario,” Manitoba plans to wrap up its program entirely by September. Alberta, on the other hand, only anticipates a rollout to the general public in the fall. A general rule of thumb: the youngest will wait the longest.

But there’s no real winning in this race. Canada has lost 20,000 souls and counting. There isn’t a vaccine on the planet that can fix that.

 

 

Ford beats Q4 earnings estimates,
announces $29 billion electric
and autonomous car plan

By Gary Gastelu
FOX Business
Feb 5, 2021

Ford beat Wall Street estimates with adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 34 cents per share on $33.2 billion in revenue versus an expected loss of 7 cents on $32.89 billion, but reported a full-year net loss of $1.3 billion, its first since 2008.

The automaker also announced a near doubling of its investments in electric vehicles to $22 billion through 2025, with an additional $7 billion earmarked for autonomous car development.

“We are accelerating all our plans – breaking constraints, increasing battery capacity, improving costs and getting more electric vehicles into our product cycle plan,” CEO Jim Farley said in a press release on the results. “People are responding to what Ford is doing today, not someday.”

During Ford's earnings call, Farley said that the amount doesn't include potential in-house battery production, which would require additional investment.

Ford's combined $29 billion plan for EVs and AVs compares to General Motors' latest commitment to invest $27 billion in the technologies through 2025.

Ford projected an $8-$9 billion profit for 2021 that includes a $900 million gain on its stake in electric vehicle startup Rivian, in which it made a $500 million in 2019. Rivan, which is scheduled to begin deliveries to customers late this year, was reportedly valued at $27.6 billion following a recent funding round in January.

Ford cautioned that the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage that has affected production could negatively affect its 2021 performance.

Farley used the chip issue as an example of why it will need to be aggressive, but smart developing the battery supply chain for its electric vehicles, and that more details on the electric car plan would be revealed in the spring.

 

Ford to sell Mustang
Mach-E in China

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 4, 2021

Ford Motor Co. will offer its new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV to customers in China, the Dearborn automaker said Thursday.

In a news release, the automaker said that the vehicle will be manufactured in China by its joint venture with a Chinese automaker, Changan Ford, for local customers. 

The announcement comes amid an effort by the automaker to turn around its automotive operations in part by allocating resources and capital to its strongest businesses and vehicle franchises, and by electrifying its most iconic and popular nameplates, including Mustang.

The Blue Oval noted the introduction of a China-built version of Mach-E is part of its "Best of Ford, Best of China" strategy aimed at offering customers in the region "industry-leading smart vehicles and advanced technologies."

The automaker historically has struggled to gain traction in the China market, but has seen its results trend in a more positive direction amid a refresh of its Chinese lineup to make its offerings more in line with Chinese customers' demand for SUVs and luxury vehicles.

Touting Mach-E as "a breakthrough vehicle in Ford's electrification strategy," the Blue Oval claims the vehicle "will set new standards in style and performance in the Chinese high-end EV market when it becomes available in China later this year."

Ford has committed to investing $11.5 billion in electrification by 2022. An all-electric version of the automaker's flagship F-150 pickup truck is due out next year, as is an electric version of its popular Transit cargo van.

The China-built Mach-E will feature a "smart cockpit" equipped with Ford's driver-assist technologies (called Ford Co-Pilot360) and an infotainment system that will receive upgrades via over-the-air software updates. The vehicle will have the capability of hands-free driving on prequalified sections of divided highways. 

The automaker claims it will be the first in China to offer "cellular vehicle-to-everything," or C-V2X, technology in mass production vehicles. C-V2X is essentially the vehicle's communication system, and Ford says it will help drivers "anticipate potential driving hazards and improve traffic safety and efficiency."

The Mach-E sold in China will have an estimated driving range of more than 600 kilometers, or about 373 miles. 

Meanwhile, Ford also announced it also will localize production of Mach-E's GT performance edition. "The GT high performance edition will adopt a front and rear dual-motor layout, joining the 3-second club with its impressive 0-100km/h acceleration capabilities," the automaker said.

 

 

Canada’s new travel restrictions
‘a death blow’ to airlines,
UNIFOR president says

Emerald Bensadoun
Global News
Feb 1, 2021

The new coronavirus travel restrictions imposed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday are "a death blow" to the aviation sector, the national president of the country's largest private union said.

"Everybody understands that governments need to do everything they can to keep Canadians safe, but we also have to make sure that we have industries to come back to when the pandemic is over," Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, said on Sunday's episode of The West Block with Global News' Mercedes Stephenson.

"We can't talk about 'build back better' and not have a strong aviation sector and that's what's at peril right now."

In an effort to crack down on non-essential travel, Trudeau announced that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat would be suspending services to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico, effective Sunday.

He said international passengers looking to fly back to Canada will only have the option of four airports in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, adding that they’ll be forced to quarantine for up to three days at a designated hotel that could cost "more than $2,000" while they await results from new mandatory COVID-19 tests.

“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” Trudeau said.

“By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time, when we can all plan those vacations.”

Ad 00:03 - up next "Coronavirus: Transport minister says feds asking all Canadians to cancel vacations, not just to sun destinations"

Dias, who represents roughly 15,000 workers within the aviation sector, said airports have been blowing through cash reserves and criticized the Canadian government for doing "nothing" to help the aviation industry since the pandemic began in March.

"Workers are concerned, workers are disillusioned and they're wondering when the government is actually going to step in," he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the aviation industry, with demand for flights down between 85 and 90 per cent since spring.

In order to help, Dias said the Canadian government could waive fuel taxes for a year, advised waiving the Canadian carriers' landing and gate fees and suggested a $7-billion loan at a rate of 1 per cent over 10 years.

"That will go a long way to stabilize things, and will send the message too to the tens of thousands of workers in this industry that the government understands the strategic importance of the work that they do," he said.

Dias urged the federal to act quickly.

"Rome is burning and there's a lot of diddling going on," he said.

"We need some solutions. We need some answers. We need some commitments. And it's the only way we're going to move forward."

 

Is it time to end ‘for-profit’ long-
term care in Ontario?

By Bill Kelly  
January 31, 2021

Frustrated yet undeterred by what they see as government inaction on the long-term care crisis in Ontario, a group of doctors with expertise in the field has formed “Doctors For Justice In Long-Term Care” to advocate as one voice for immediate action to deal with the life-and-death situation.

I’ve interviewed two of the co-founders of Doctors For Justice on my show in recent weeks:  Dr. Amit Arya and Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos. Their passion is obvious, their frustration is palpable.

They’ve presented a number of recommendations to address the shortcomings in long-term care, many of which they say have been talked about but not acted upon.

It should be noted that Doctors For Justice readily admits that the problems in long-term care pre-date the Ford government and certainly the pandemic, but the reality is, as the sitting government, the ball is in the Ford government’s court to do something.

One of the most contentious recommendations calls for an end to “for-profit” long-term care facilities in Ontario.

It’s not the first time the issue has been brought forward, but in the past, it was often dismissed as simply a ploy by unions to flex their muscle with the government.

As Dr. Stamatopoulos told me, while many of the issues existed before the pandemic, the coronavirus crisis has exasperated the problems immensely.

Dr. Arya was more blunt, saying there are more COVID-19 cases, more COVID-19-related deaths and more staffing problems in for-profit facilities, all of which contribute to the abhorrent conditions in too many of those privately run operations.

8:38Coronavirus outbreak: As long as profit is being made in senior care, that care will be restricted: Unifor president

Coronavirus outbreak: As long as profit is being made in senior care, that care will be restricted: Unifor president – May 24, 2020

For its part, the government points to a recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that suggests that the frightening rise in COVID-19 cases in long-term care is due to community spread, rather than shortcomings in the operation of the facilities.

But that report admits that researchers spent very little time analyzing staffing at the facilities because there are too many variations for staffing levels, training or pay across the province.

It also suggests that the higher number of cases in for-profit facilities may be due to the fact that they tend to be old buildings that aren’t properly equipped or structured to handle the crisis.

Dr. Stamatopoulos was quick to respond.

She says the inconsistent standard of care across the province is part of the problem and asks, why isn’t there a standard level of staffing and staff compensation across the province?

For-profit facilities tend to have fewer staff, less training and lower wages and that, according to Doctors For Justice, is the trifecta for poor patient care and possible tragic outcomes in this pandemic.

All of this begs an answer to an uncomfortable question — what is the priority of “for-profit” operations? Is it maintaining a healthy bottom line for their business or is it offering the best possible care for frail and elderly residents?

But, let’s not forget that government is culpable as well.

Public/private partnerships to deliver services can work but there must be strict guidelines and constant oversight of the operation to ensure that those guidelines are being followed.

That’s not happening in Ontario right now. Of the more than 600 long-term care facilities, only a handful have been inspected in the past two years of the Ford administration and that is shameful.

Residents are dying in cataclysmic proportions, staff are getting sick and staff are quitting.

This group of doctors has seen and experienced enough.

So who stands with these doctors to demand the best for our seniors?

Certainly not many of the for-profit owners, but, more tragically, not our government, which should always be putting people ahead of profit.

 

Canada announces mandatory
hotel quarantine for international
passengers, suspends travel
to Caribbean

BY LUCAS CASALETTO
Jan 30, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced further stringent restrictions on travellers entering the country including making it mandatory for passengers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada.

The federal government said passengers will have to quarantine at these selected hotels until the test results come back. Trudeau says it is expected to take around three days, and cost travellers around $2,000.

Those with negative test results will be able to then quarantine for the remainder of the mandatory two weeks at home, while those with positive tests will be required to quarantine in designated government facilities.

“Now is just not the time to be flying,” Trudeau said Friday. “As part of this effort, the government of Canada will work with future airlines on testing and flying requirements.”

The Prime Minister said all incoming international flights will be forced to land in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

Canada is also suspending all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico until April 30. In the coming weeks, non-essential travelers will also have to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the United States.

“I’d like to acknowledge the leadership of Air Canada, West Jet, Sun Wing, and Air Transat to making this commitment to suspend flights and be such strong partners in the fight to curve the spread of COVID-19 and its variants,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau has said such measures could be imposed suddenly and bluntly warned against nonessential trips abroad.

A second official said the reason for new measures is concern over new variants of the virus and said they are designed to discourage travel, especially to sunny destinations during March break.

“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” Trudeau repeated.

“By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time when we can all plan those vacations.”

Canada already requires those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before arrival. The suggested measure would require isolating at a hotel rather than at home.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has been urging Ottawa to require anyone returning from abroad to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel, at their own expense.

Non-essential travel into Canada by most foreign nationals has been banned since the pandemic first began sweeping across the country last March. Anyone entering the country has been required to self-quarantine for two weeks.

The federal government began beefing up those measures earlier this month.

As of Jan. 7, the government has required proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of departure time, before anyone is allowed to board a flight to Canada.

Legault and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have urged Ottawa to impose mandatory testing upon arrival in Canada as well. And they’ve proposed a ban on flights from countries where the new, more contagious variants of the virus are circulating.

For his part, Ford is expected to comment on the latest round of restrictions around 3 p.m. on Friday.

Canada did temporarily ban flights from the United Kingdom after that country reported in December a new variant of COVID-19 that was spreading like wildfire. But the ban was lifted once the pre-departure test requirement came into effect.

On the vaccine front, Trudeau says that Canada will be getting fewer doses than expected from its next shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 treatment.

He confirmed that Canada will receive 180,000 doses next week, which is 78 percent of what was expected.

Trudeau said Canada is still on track to receive two million doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of March.

He also revealed that he had another call with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who said that Canada will still receive its promised four million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of March.

 

Biden's 'Buy American' order likely to have little impact on Canadian firms, but U.S. stimulus may lift
their fortunes

Gabriel Friedman
Jan 29, 2021

Some Canadian politicians are spooked after U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order that tightened the rules to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars aren’t handed out to foreign companies.

But economists said Biden’s ‘Buy American’ policy is likely to have little impact on Canadian companies.

That’s because the U.S. government has restricted foreign companies’ ability to bid on its contracts for nearly a century, and also historically, the amount of Canada’s economy tied to U.S. government spending has been small to negligible.

The two countries’ economies are already so integrated that the size of any U.S. stimulus or economic relief package, and the extent to which it kickstarts a recovery, will have far more impact on Canada than any new restrictions on foreign companies bidding on U.S. government contracts.

“It’s not as if this is brand spanking new for Canadian business,” said Doug Porter, chief economist for BMO Capital Markets, who added that he has not changed his growth forecast for the Canadian economy by “one iota” as a result of Biden’s Buy American policy.

The Buy American Act dates back to 1933, and put measures in place to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars support the U.S. economy — although exactly how to do so has been a challenge as the economy has become more and more global in nature.

Today, the U.S. federal government awards an estimated US$600 billion in goods and services contracts every year.

During his campaign for president, Biden had promised to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs and in a press release on Monday, he said his order means “that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American-made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts.”

The order also creates a new agency to review all waivers of the Buy American requirement, and which will publicly report the details of any waivers.

Waivers should only be “used in very limited circumstances — for example, when there’s an overwhelming national security, humanitarian or emergency need,” Biden said.

While that appears to draw a clear line in the sand, which would restrict Canada from any fiscal stimulus measures, there’s always a chance it may not.

The Conservative party’s international trade critic, British Columbia’s MP Tracy Gray, has pointed out that a decade ago, Stephen Harper’s government won waivers for Canada from the Buy American Act, and she urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to push for a similar exemption.

“Canada and U.S. trade are closely tied — but this Buy American plan puts our mutual economic recovery at risk,” she said in a statement.

The PM said Tuesday that the federal government was able to negotiate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and can manage the latest protectionist move by the U.S.

“Over the past four years, we faced an American administration that was both unpredictable and extremely protectionist, and we were able every step of the way to stand up for Canadian interests,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday.

But how much money is at stake for Canada?

Mark Agnew, senior director of international policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged it was likely a small amount.

The most recent data he could find was a 2019 U.S. government report that showed in 2015 Canadian businesses won about US$674 million in federal procurement contracts.

That amounted to 0.04 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product in 2015, which clocked in at US$1.56 trillion, according to the World Bank.

“It wasn’t gobs of money that was going outside the U.S.,” Agnew said, “because the rules were already so strict.”

Still, he tied the issue into a broader question about the North American regional economy. Some of Canada’s most important industries are already integrated with the U.S. economy, and if Canada is lumped in with every other foreign country, that could erode some of the ties.

So far, there is still hope that the Biden Administration will be open to strengthening ties with Canada.

Having endured two rounds of the Trump Administration’s aluminum tariffs, Jean Simard, president and chief executive of the Aluminum Association of Canada, said he doesn’t foresee any impact from the new Buy American policy on his industry.

More than 85 per cent of the aluminum produced in Canada flows into the U.S. The military purchases some aluminum, but in small volumes, and usually with proprietary shapes and alloys, which would make it exempt, he said.

“This is not new,” he said, adding that he remains hopeful that the two economies will continue to integrate.

Porter, the BMO economist, agreed that ‘Buy American’ is concerning in part because it ties into trade protectionist tendencies that have historically dominated the U.S. Democratic Party.

But he said Canada’s economy is already so integrated with the U.S. that regardless of any effects of the Buy American policy, it is poised to benefit, directly or indirectly, if the Biden Administration pushes an aggressive fiscal stimulus package.

“To me the most important thing for the Canadian economy is the extent to which the U.S. economy recovers over the next year,” said Porter.

On the bright side, he said the Biden Administration appears more open to cooperation than the Trump Administration, which he said was characterized by unpredictability and squabbling with Canada.

“We’re always going to face some protectionist pressures form the U.S.,” he said. “I would take a bit of protectionism over the incredible trade uncertainty we’ve had for the past four years.”

 

FCA reaches $30M deal to settle
federal corruption probe

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Jan 28, 2021

Detroit — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now part of Stellantis NV, has agreed to pay a $30 million fine to settle a criminal investigation into auto executives breaking federal labor laws, according to federal prosecutors.

The proposed deal for the automaker to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act ends prolonged negotiations stemming from a years-long corruption scandal involving the United Auto Workers. The investigation has led to more than a dozen convictions and revealed union leaders and auto executives broke federal labor laws, stole union funds and received bribes and illegal benefits from union contractors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives.

The automaker, which merged officially with Groupe PSA of France 11 days ago, also has agreed to the appointment of an independent monitor for three years. The monitor will oversee dissolution of a joint training center FCA operated with the UAW.

The proposed deal was announced six weeks after prosecutors secured a separate deal with the United Auto Workers that includes prolonged oversight of the troubled union.

As part of the deal, prosecutors filed a federal criminal case Wednesday that accuses Fiat Chrysler executives of knowingly and voluntarily conspiring with others to break labor laws.

The conspiracy lasted from January 2009 through approximately 2016 and executives paid more than $3.5 million in illegal payments to UAW officials, according to the criminal case.

That includes former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli approving the payment of $262,000 to pay off the mortgage on UAW Vice President General Holiefield’s home in Harrison Township. Holiefield died in 2015 before he could be charged with a crime.

The home of the late UAW Vice President General Holiefield and wife Monica Morgan-Holiefield. She was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

Iacobelli, who is serving a four-year federal prison sentence, also authorized spending $25,000 for a party for UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell and members of the union’s governing board. Jewell also was convicted in the corruption scandal.

FCA chief failed to disclose gift to UAW, sources say

Iacobelli also approved spending more than $30,000 on meals for UAW officials at restaurants in Palm Springs and southern California, prosecutors said. Money to pay for the illegal benefits came from accounts funded by the automaker that were supposed to used to pay for worker training.

 

Biden signs order strengthening
'Buy American' rules

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
Jan 27, 2021

Washington — President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday aimed at bolstering federal government purchases from American manufacturers.

The federal government spends around $600 billion annually on contracts, according to the White House, and Biden's order intends to leverage those funds to support U.S. workers and manufacturers.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak during a campaign event on manufacturing and buying American-made products at UAW Region 1 headquarters in Warren, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

"I don't buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past," the president said shortly before signing the order. "American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II, and it must be part of the engine of prosperity now."

The order directs the agency in charge of federal procurement to raise the minimum threshold of parts that must be made in America to qualify under the existing "Buy American" law. It also increases the price preference for domestic products, which is a percentage added to foreign contractors' offers when determining the lowest price.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event on manufacturing and buying American-made products at UAW Region 1 headquarters in Warren, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

Under the decades-old Buy American Act, at least 50% of the components of a product must come from within the U.S. to qualify as a domestic good. Former President Donald Trump also issued executive orders that affected the act, including one that pushed to raise that threshold to 95% for iron and steel products and 55% for other products.

Biden's order doesn't specify the number the new threshold should be, but directs his administration to consider allowing the public to comment on a proposed rule. The order also calls for a new component "test" that adds more weight to American-made parts that add more value to a product.

Depending on the threshold, the order may prove complicated for many U.S. automakers. Vehicles made by U.S.-based automakers usually contain more parts made in the U.S. than automakers based in foreign countries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But not always — Japan-based Honda Motor Co., for example, is high on the list of automakers using U.S.-made parts. Still, many American automakers use a significant percentage of parts sourced from other countries.

Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, lauded the order in a statement. But he said the administration should work to protect "access to critical global supply chains and the resources that our lifesaving and life-changing products require."

In a statement, Ford Motor Co. said that it has yet to review the details of the order but believes investing in U.S. goods and services "must be a national mission. President Biden’s early focus on investing in American manufacturing is critical to the continued success of the U.S. auto industry.”

General Motors Co. issued a statement saying it "is encouraged by President Biden’s commitment to supporting American manufacturing" and also looks forward to reviewing the order. A spokesperson for Stellantis NV, the maker of Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups, declined to comment until the order has been made public.

Under the order, it also will be harder for non-American contractors to qualify for waivers to sell products to federal agencies. And it requires the administration to build a website showing existing contracts with foreign companies.

Agencies will be directed to use the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to connect with small and mid-sized manufacturers to bring new domestic suppliers into the government contracting system, review how they're implementing existing laws, and recommend ways to achieve Biden's "Made in America" goals.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget will add a "Director of Made-in-America," who will be responsible for implementing the order.

The existing "Buy American" law is intended to ensure taxpayer money supports American workers and businesses, Biden said. He argued the Trump administration didn't "take it seriously enough" and too frequently waived the requirement "without much pushback at all."

Tens of billions of federal dollars have gone to foreign companies, Biden said, including $3 billion in defense funding on foreign construction contracts in 2018 and $300 million on foreign engines and vehicles.

Biden reiterated his commitment to replace federal fleets with American-made electric vehicles and to make "historic investments" in the research and development of battery technology, artificial intelligence and clean energy — all which have a direct impact on the auto industry.

"Together, this will be the largest mobilization of public investment in procurement, infrastructure and R&D since World War II," he said.

Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers, said in a statement that the order "sent a strong message to American workers that our government will do all it can to support buying American products, made here by American workers. Today’s action is a powerful statement of solidarity with our hard-working brothers and sisters."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, also praised the decision in a statement Monday, saying Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are "strengthening labor unions, leveraging federal contracts to support domestic manufacturing, and investing in American workers."

The White House said in a press release that the order fulfills Biden's campaign promise to "make Buy American real and close loopholes that allow companies to offshore production and jobs."

Biden has promised to create a million new jobs in auto manufacturing, auto supply chains and auto infrastructure through an administration-wide effort to advance sustainable energy and transportation systems.

On the campaign trail, Biden touted his record of supporting American manufacturing, including his involvement in the 2009 auto bailout.

Auto industry manufacturing jobs have significantly declined in Michigan since the early 2000s, though current employment levels before the COVID-19 pandemic had reached similar levels to those right before the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of October 2020, the latest  official data available, there were 37,700 jobs in auto manufacturing in Michigan.

 

US probes complaints that Ford tailgate recall didn't work

Associated Press
Jan 24, 2020

Detroit — U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that a Ford pickup truck tailgate recall didn't fix the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has 11 complaints that a recall of power tailgates on 300,000 Super Duty pickups failed to rectify the issue. The agency says it also has received reports from Ford about unintended tailgate openings after the recall repairs were made.

Ford recalled the F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks in 2019 because the power tailgates could open while being driven. The defect allowed for the potential of unrestrained cargo tumbling from vehicles. The trucks are from the 2017 through 2020 model years.

The agency says it will investigate how often the problem happens and what the safety consequences are. The probe could lead to another recall.

 

Air bag recall to cost $610 million,
Ford Motor Co. says

Riley Beggin
Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 22, 2021

A federal recall of Takata air bags will cost Ford Motor Co. $610 million, the company reported in a federal filing Thursday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday rejected a request from Ford and Mazda Motor Corp. to allow them not to recall around 3 million vehicles that had the potentially deadly air bag inflators inside them. 

The Ford vehicles that must be recalled are the Ford Ranger from 2007 to 2011, the Ford Fusion from 2006 to 2012, Ford Edge from 2006 to 2021, the Lincoln Zephyr and MKZ from 2006 through 2012, the Lincoln MKX from 2007 to 2010, and the Mercury Milan from 2006 to 2011. 

Ford filed a form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday that addressed the recall and estimated the cost to the company would total $610 million. The cost will be reflected as a special item in the company's fourth-quarter 2020 financial results, which the Blue Oval is set to release Feb. 4.

The costly recall comes as the automaker continues to face financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as costs associated with product launches — namely the redesigned 2021 F-150. 

The Takata air bags used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that would inflate air bags in the case of a crash. However, regulators found the chemical can deteriorate and cause larger explosions that injure drivers. 

The air bags have killed 27 people globally, including 18 in the U.S. In May of last year, NHTSA said it would not make automakers recall Takata air bag inflators in newer model year vehicles. 

But the agency did recall millions of the air bags that had been supplied to 14 automakers for use in U.S. vehicles, including Honda Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and BMW AG.

In November, NHTSA ordered General Motors Co. to recall and repair nearly 6 million pickups and SUVs equipped with the inflators. In total, around 100 million Takata air bag inflators have been recalled globally. 

 

Corrupt UAW boss wore wire while
playing golf with union brothers

Robert Snell
Jan 21, 2021
The Detroit News

Detroit — Prosecutors on Wednesday said a United Auto Workers official caught in a years-long corruption scandal deserves probation because he helped prosecutors convict two former presidents and secure federal oversight of the belabored union.

Edward "Nick" Robinson's help in exposing corruption within the UAW's top ranks included risking his safety by wearing secret recording devices during union junkets and while golfing with corrupt colleagues, according to a sentencing memo filed in federal court.

Robinson is portrayed in court filings as a pivotal figure in an investigation that has led to the convictions of 15 people. The probe by agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Labor Department has revealed labor leaders and auto executives broke federal labor laws, stole union funds and received bribes and illegal benefits from union contractors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives.

Robinson, 73, of Kirkwood, Missouri, an aide to former UAW President Gary Jones, wore secret recording devices on at least 10 days from March-August 2019, prosecutors revealed. That includes Aug. 28, 2019, when federal agents raided multiple locations across the country, including Jones' Michigan home and a UAW regional office in Missouri.

"This was done so that agents could secure the immediate reactions of UAW officials to steps taken in the investigation," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey wrote.

"Robinson took risks in cooperating against close associates who held significant positions of power in one of the most important labor unions in the country," Gardey added. "Robinson’s cooperation was early, truthful, self-motivated, proactive, and highly significant to the government’s investigation."

In March, Robinson pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds and splitting the money with Jones. He faces up to five years in federal prison after admitting he conspired with at least six other UAW officials to embezzle more than $1 million since 2010 and spent the money on personal luxuries such as Palm Spring, California, villas, golf trips, and more than $60,000 in cigars.

His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27 in front of U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

Robinson's cooperation, and revelation that he wore a recording device, quickly led to the convictions of Jones, former President Dennis Williams and Vance Pearson, who headed the UAW regional office in Missouri. His help also enabled federal investigators to obtain court approval to search multiple locations, including a $1.3 million lakefront home the UAW built for Williams with mostly nonunion labor.

"Robinson’s cooperation also aided the government in its effort to secure federal oversight of the UAW," Gardey wrote. "Robinson’s cooperation in revealing the existence of a multidimensional embezzlement conspiracy and obstruction of justice within the UAW contributed to the government’s ability to secure this settlement."

The proposed deal includes government oversight of the UAW for six years and would let rank-and-file workers decide whether to alter the union's constitution to allow for direct election of future leaders.

Such a constitutional change would be groundbreaking and give members the right to hold elections and directly vote for new UAW leaders for the first time in more than 70 years.

 

Lincoln Corsair EV coming
in 2026, report says

The electric Lincoln SUV would be one of five new EVs Ford will build in Canada later this decade.

Steven Ewing
Jan. 20, 2021

An all-electric version of the Lincoln Corsair crossover will launch later this decade, according to a report published Tuesday. Quoting vehicle forecasting company AutoForecast Solutions, Automotive News says the electric Corsair will go into production at Ford's Oakville, Ontario plant in 2026.

This news follows a report from last September, where a representative from Canadian auto union Unifor said Ford would build five new electric cars at the Oakville facility. At the time, no specifics regarding the future vehicles were given, only that the first of the five cars should enter production in 2025.

A Lincoln representative told Roadshow the automaker does not comment on future product plans.

The Oakville facility is where the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus crossovers are currently produced. The plant is expected to be overhauled as part of a C$1.95 billion investment into Ford's Oakville and Windsor, Ontario facilities.

All five of the EVs set to be produced in Oakville will reportedly share the same platform, which will underpin both Ford and Lincoln products, according to Automotive News. The Corsair, which is currently Lincoln's best-selling product in the US, is expected to be fully redesigned in 2024.

 

 

Canadian GM workers ratify
contract for commercial
electric van production

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Jan 19, 2021

General Motors Co. employees at its CAMI Assembly Plant ratified a new three-year contract that will bring production of electric commercial delivery vans to the facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, the Canadian auto workers' union, Unifor, said Monday.

Members of Local 88 on Sunday supported the proposal by 91%. CAMI will be GM's fourth electric vehicle plant in North America. The Detroit automaker plans to invest $800 million to build the EV600 van, which GM's new business entity BrightDrop showcased last week at the virtual Consumer Electronics Show.

BrightDrop, a new GM startup that aims to help logistics and delivery customers, and the EV600 are part of GM's aggressive push to rebrand as an EV maker. It plans to have 30 electric entries globally by 2025. BrightDrop also developed the EP1, an electric pallet that GM says can move product over short distances.

CAMI currently builds the Chevrolet Equinox, which also is assembled in Mexico. It employs 1,900 Unifor members. Work on the two-year transformation is set to begin immediately. Equinox production will end there in 2023.

Last fall, GM negotiated a new contract with Unifor that included a $1.03 billion investment at the Oshawa Assembly plant to build full-size trucks starting next year. CAMI falls under a different contract that wasn't set to expire until September 2021, but GM and the union moved up contract talks to the start of the year.

The first 500 EV600s are scheduled to be delivered to FedEx Express by late 2021. The van will be available to more customers in 2022. GM's new Ultium battery technology will debut in the commercial market on the EV600. The van has an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge. 

Altogether, the three Detroit automakers negotiating with Unifor say they will invest $4.7 billion into Canadian plants, according to the union. That includes support from federal and Ontario governments.

“To achieve this level of commitment for auto manufacturing," Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, said in a statement, "shows what can happen when we have a collective vision to secure this sector and create good jobs for Canadians."

UNIFOR LOCAL 88 • GENERAL MOTORS BARGAINING REPORT HERE

 

Ford, despite pandemic disruptions,
boosted China sales in 2020

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 18, 2021

Despite production disruptions and deflated consumer demand caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Ford Motor Co. managed to grow its sales in the world's largest auto market in 2020.

Ford this week reported that its sales in Greater China grew 6.1% year-over-year, to 602,627 vehicles. In the fourth quarter, the automaker's sales were up 30.3% over the same quarter in 2019, marking the third consecutive quarter of sales growth. Ford, with its Chinese joint venture partners, sold 190,916 vehicles in the final quarter of the year.

The Blue Oval historically has struggled to gain traction in China, but attributes recent signs of improvement to a refreshed lineup that is more in line with customer preferences. The automaker's Ford, Lincoln and JMC brands all reached double-digit year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter — 24.7%, 74.9% and 28.2%, respectively.

"The positive results reflect the company's favorable product mix that more strongly aligns with Chinese consumers' preferences for SUVs and luxury vehicles," Ford said in a statement announcing the results. "The company's refreshed portfolio of offerings includes several new vehicles such as Ford Explorer and Escape, as well as Lincoln Corsair and Aviator."

The company "fully (intends) to strengthen that momentum with a winning strategy that optimizes our product mix and localizes production of world-class Ford and Lincoln vehicles to meet rising Chinese customer demand," Anning Chen, president and CEO of Ford China, said in a statement.

Ford's luxury Lincoln brand set new quarterly and full-year sales records. Full-year sales of 61,700 units marked a nearly one-third increase over last year. SUV sales for the brand climbed 158.7% over the same quarter in 2019. For the year, they were up 96.3%.

Ford brand vehicle sales were up 24.7% for the fourth quarter but full-year sales of 324,000 units were down 1.2% from 2019. Again, SUVs were popular, with sales for the segment up 86.5% for the quarter and nearly one-third for the year.

The automaker reported that the new Explorer and Escape, respectively, sold about 10,000 units and 12,000 units in Q4.

Commercial vehicle sales, buoyed by strong demand for Ford's globally-popular Transit van as well as growth of JMC brand commercial vehicle sales and pickup, were up 31.4% in the fourth quarter, and up 15.4% in 2020. Light-truck sales were up, too.

General Motors Co., too, has sought to realign its Chinese lineup to offer the luxury vehicles and SUVs customers want to buy. The Detroit automaker sold 2.9 million vehicles in China in 2020, a 6.2% decline from 2019. The dip marked GM's third consecutive year of declining sales in China.

Detroit's automakers have struggled in the region.

In recent years, Ford's sales there have been pulled down by lack of demand for an aging lineup. In response, the automaker launched its Ford China 2.0 strategy to speed up the changeover of its lineup and create more locally-made vehicles that resonate with customers in the region.

The refreshed portfolio includes the Ford Edge Plus that launched in December, the Lincoln Nautilus, and the third Lincoln vehicle to be localized in China in 2020.

 

Windsor Assembly barricade
dispute reignites

Dave Waddell,
Windsor Star
Jan 17, 2021

FCA Canada asked 30 Auto Warehouse Company workers to leave the Windsor Assembly Plant Friday morning as the labour dispute that saw a six-day blockade last week reignite.

FCA notified AWC on Thursday it no longer required their employees as of midnight.

That prompted Unifor Local 444, which represents the nearly 60 workers impacted, to resurrect the blockade. The workers are responsible for driving finished minivans out of the plant and preparing the vehicles for shipping.

“We’re blocking the workers from Motipark coming in to do our work,” Local 444 president Dave Cassidy said. “It’s not happening.

“This is not coming down until we get a court order to tell us it’s coming down.”

Cassidy said he learned of FCA’s change of tack from AWC workers.

“I was shocked,” Cassidy said.

“We lived up to our end and Chrysler, for their whatever reason, didn’t live up to their end and I’m not sure why.”

Cassidy said the blockade would be manned around the clock.

In an emailed statement from FCA Canada, the company disputes Unifor’s version of events.

“FCA was notified by AWC management that Thursday, Jan. 14 was its last day at Windsor Assembly Plant,” said FCA Canada’s head of communications Lou Ann Gosselin. “AWC confirmed that they did not instruct their employees to report to work this morning.”Holding yards around FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant are being filled with new Chrysler Pacificas as a blockade at the plant resumed on Friday.

Gosselin didn’t expand on the reasoning for AWC’s decision, but noted all parties understood it was an interim agreement.

She added FCA feels it’s unfairly caught in a dispute between Unifor and Motipark, which was awarded the contract that AWC had been doing.

“Unifor has been disrupting our FCA Windsor Assembly Plant operations since the releasing activity for finished vehicles was awarded to a new unionized vendor, effective January 1,” Gosselin said.

“This labour dispute should be resolved off FCA premises. As this is currently not the case, FCA will pursue all options to protect our production at Windsor.”

Superior Court of Ontario officials confirmed Friday that FCA is seeking a date in front of Justice Paul Howard.

Howard is unavailable Monday and no court date had been set.

The blockade originally was put in place Jan. 5 as part of a labour dispute between Local 444 and Motipark, which won the FCA contract to take over from AWC.

Unifor is claiming employment successor rights while Motipark has shown no interest in hiring the 60 Local 444 workers who had been doing the work under the former AWC contract.

Cassidy said Motipark workers would start at $17.77 per hour under the new agreement compared to the average of $22 per hour under the Unifor deal with AWC.

FCA and Unifor reached a temporary agreement last Sunday night ending the first blockade.

Unifor filed papers this week requesting a date before the Ontario Labour Relations Board on the successor rights issue.

Cassidy said Friday no date had been set yet.

The drama on Friday started around 1 a.m. when FCA management and Windsor Police Service officers showed up with the intention of having Motipark employees enter the plant.

However, the Unifor blockade prevented that.

Unifor said the 30 AWC workers reported for their shift at 7 a.m. only to be told they had to leave as they were trespassing.

“We told (FCA) they aren’t going to have scabs come in here,” Cassidy said.

“The police asked if we’d go in and escort them out, so we went in and escorted them out.”

Cassidy said the auto haulers for Cassen and ATS, which is a division of FCA, will be allowed to transport all minivans that had been processed and lined up for shipping by the AWC workers.

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy, centre, and others keep distanced — due to COVID-19 precautions — while monitoring traffic at Windsor Assembly Plant’s vehicle delivery exit on Walker Road Friday.

Friday’s production was being stored around WAP’s yard and the lots across from the plant on the east side. WAP has enough space to hold one day’s production (830 vehicles).

No production is scheduled for this weekend.

Cassidy said Unifor has suggested FCA make the AWC workers part of its ATS division, which is also represented by Local 444.

“ATS have a separate collective agreement (than WAP workers),” he said.

“We’ll negotiate a different contract (than AWC), no problem. It’s win-win for everyone.”

 

 

Wearing wires put convicted UAW
official 'at risk,' lawyer says

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Jan 15, 2021

Wearing wires in meetings with United Auto Workers leaders put a convicted former union official "at risk," according to a federal court filing from Edward "Nick" Robinson's lawyer Wednesday requesting that he serve probation instead of time in jail.

Robinson, an aide to former UAW President Gary Jones, cooperated with federal investigators to record meetings and phone conversations, according to the memorandum confirming a November 2019 Detroit News report

The contents of those recordings were used as evidence in a years-long probe that has resulted in 15 convictions, including two former UAW presidents, and prompted a settlement between the union and the federal government that includes six years of oversight and the opportunity for members to institute direct elections of leaders.

Robinson, 73, of Kirkwood, Missouri, in March pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds and splitting the money with Jones. He faces up to five years in federal prison after admitting he conspired with at least six other UAW officials to embezzle more than $1 million since 2010 and spent the money on personal luxuries such as Palm Spring, California, villas, golf trips, and more than $60,000 in cigars. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27 after several delays.

"Nick, a clear nonexpert, went into meetings and conversations with the highest-ranking officials of the UAW wearing wires to capture everything that was said," Robinson's attorney, James Martin, wrote. "Moreover, not only did he do this once, but on four different occasions Nick continued to take an active role, putting himself at risk in order to assist the Government.

"Though he did not obtain direct evidence on each of them, he is indisputably the domino that brought a large group of crooked individuals down, including two UAW Presidents."

Robinson approached the federal government before agents came to him, Martin wrote, calling it a sign of remorse. The personal risk of Robinson's actions in doing what agents requested was "indisputable," his lawyer noted, adding one of the targets asked if he was wearing a wire and made him pull up his shirt. He also recorded approximately 20 phone calls, he wrote.

Former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, offered a brief letter in support of Robinson: "I applaud Nick's commitment to cooperate with the investigation in this case. In all of my interactions with Nick, I always found him to be a strong advocate for the interests of the UAW men and women members."

Robinson's military service, his and his wife's health issues and the financial repercussions of the case were cited in the request for leniency. Robinson has chronic heart disease, bypass heart surgery, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low blood platelets, kidney stones and back pain requiring routine cortisone shots, according to the filing that noted incarceration puts Robinson at risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robinson agreed to pay $42,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and an unspecified amount of additional restitution. His sentencing date has been delayed several times due to the pandemic.

"Mr. Robinson will stand before the Court a humbled man," Martin wrote, "with great regret and remorse for his actions which bring him before the Court."

 

Province confirms who can receive
COVID-19 vaccine as part of
Phase 2, mass delivery
expected by April

BY LUCAS CASALETTO
Jan 14, 2021

SUMMARY

More than 144,000 doses have been administered to date, with over 8,000 Ontarians fully immunized with both shots.

The interval between Moderna doses is 28 days; for the Pfizer vaccine, it's 21 days.

Ontario will enter Phase 3 when vaccines are available for every provincial resident that wishes to be treated.

Ontario plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in all nursing homes and high-risk retirement homes by Feb. 15 and will begin mass delivery to select groups of people in April.

On Wednesday, the Ford government said health officials are preparing to immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of Phase 2.

The province is currently focusing on vaccinating health-care workers and those in long-term care facilities but says people over the age of 80 will be the first priority group to receive the shot when Ontario enters the second phase of its vaccine rollout in April.

Those eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase 2 include:

  • Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout;
  • Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings;
  • Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, teachers, food processing industry); and
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.

“With Phase 1 of our plan well underway, we’re getting ready to expand our vaccine rollout and get more needles into arms as soon as the supply is available,” said Premier Ford.

“We now have a well-oiled machine, led by Gen. Hillier, and we are making tremendous progress. We know this second phase will be an even larger logistical undertaking than the first.”

“That’s why we’re ramping up our capacity on the ground to ensure these vaccines are administered quickly, beginning with the people who need them most,” Ford added.

In the spring and from April to June, officials project to secure and distribute roughly 15 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s treatment. Of that tally, around 4.5 million will be administered to essential workers and the aforementioned age demographic above 80.

Roughly 500,000 people consisted of high-risk, followed by 4 million people aged anywhere from 16 to 60 years old, will be inoculated, if they so choose, according to this plan.

Ontario has administered more than 144,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday. This includes over 45,000 healthcare workers in LTC and retirement homes, over 77,000 healthcare workers, and over 13,000 LTC and retirement home residents.

An additional 20,000 long-term care, retirement home staff, residents, and essential caregivers have
received Moderna vaccinations, the province confirmed.

It also says about 8,000 people have now received the two doses of the vaccine required for full immunization.

Phase 1 of the vaccine program is expected to see approximately 1.5 million eligible people vaccinated, Ford said.

The plan builds on an earlier pledge to give the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities in hot spots by Jan. 21.

Ontario will enter Phase 3, planned for August, when vaccines are available for every provincial resident that wishes to be treated.

The government says it’s now able to move the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safely to long-term care facilities, which has allowed it to speed up immunizations in nursing homes.

The province is also expanding testing sites province-wide, including the launch of the first municipally run vaccination site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Toronto’s top doctor confirmed that as of Monday, the site will administer vaccines to Phase 1 priority populations, including select frontline health care workers.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second dose either 21 days or 28 days after the first shot is given.

Long-term care homes have been hit hard during the pandemic, with 3,063 residents dying of COVID-19 since March.

Ontario is reporting 2,961 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and 74 deaths.

Compared to the day before, this is a two percent increase in new infections and an 80.5 percent increase in the number of lives lost because of the virus.

 

Ford ending manufacturing in
Brazil, but will continue South
America operations

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 13, 2021

Ford Motor Co. on Monday said it will cease manufacturing operations in Brazil amid an ongoing restructuring of its global operations and challenging economic conditions in South America.

Vehicle production at the automaker's plants in Camaçari and Taubaté will cease immediately, with parts production continuing for a few months. Ford's Troller plant in Horizonte will continue operating until the fourth quarter. In all, the closures will affect some 5,000 employees.

Still, the Blue Oval said its departure from Brazil does not mean an exit from the South American market. The automaker will continue to sell vehicles in the region, sourced from manufacturing facilities in Argentina, Uruguay and other parts of the world. And the company will maintain numerous non-manufacturing facilities in Brazil.

The shuttering of Brazil production, which will cost the automaker some $4.1 billion in charges, marks another step forward in the global restructuring the company has been undergoing since 2018. It's also consistent with CEO Jim Farley's newly-detailed plan to fix and grow the Blue Oval's automotive business. 

"With more than a century in South America and Brazil, we know these are very difficult, but necessary, actions to create a healthy and sustainable business," Farley said in a statement. "We are moving to a lean-asset-light business model by ceasing production in Brazil and serving customers with some of the best and most exciting vehicles in our global portfolio. We will also accelerate bringing our customers the benefits of connectivity, electrification and autonomous technologies to efficiently address the need for cleaner and safer vehicles well into the future."

About $2.5 billion of the charges will be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020, and about $1.6 billion in 2021. About $2.5 billion of the total will be paid in cash.

The move comes a little more than three months into Farley's tenure as CEO. Upon stepping into the role, he laid out a plan for profitable growth that called for improving quality, reducing costs and accelerating the restructuring of underperforming businesses. Under that plan, the Blue Oval is focusing on its most successful businesses and franchises, and leaning into a future it and other automakers are betting will be defined by technologically-advanced, electric-powered vehicles.

Ford is in the midst of launching a significant portfolio refresh, with the Mustang Mach-E, redesigned F-150 and Bronco Sport now for sale, the Bronco coming this year, and electric versions of the F-150 and Transit due next year. 

"Going forward, we will focus our product portfolio on our global strengths in mid-size pickups and commercial vehicles, with Ranger and Transit, and serve our customers in the region with key global products such as the Mustang, Bronco, Territory and more," Lyle Watters, president of Ford South America, wrote in a note to employees Monday. 

The Brazil decision is tied to Ford's goals of boosting global profit margins to 8% and generating "consistently strong adjusted free cash flow."

The company has worked in recent years to shore up its South American business by phasing out products that weren't generating a profit, introducing new ones, slashing costs and getting out of the heavy-truck segment there. But company officials said the steps simply weren't enough, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic's toll. 

Through the first three quarters of 2020, the automaker lost $386 million in South America — an improvement from 2019, when the same period brought $527 million in losses.

Such steep losses undermine the automaker's push toward electric and autonomous vehicles, a costly transition that promises little payoff in the near term. The company in the last few years has sought to reduce costs by restructuring underperforming businesses. In all, the global restructuring is slated to cost the automaker $11 billion. 

"The kinds of changes we're announcing today in South America are intended to help us accomplish there what's already happening in Europe and China, where we're giving customers great vehicles, great service, great value at the same time that we're improving the operating performance and profitability of those businesses," said corporate spokesman T.R. Reid.

The automaker, as well as its competitors, have been hampered by persistent, unfavorable economic conditions in the region.

"Brazil has been difficult, and South America has been difficult, and the COVID situation made it that much more so," said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at IHS Markit. "And Ford, like other automakers, is investing a lot into moving their EVs and other mobility services forward."

IHS's most recent data, from 2019, indicates that 4.5% of Ford's light-vehicle production was based in Brazil.

"There's pressure to get to that 8% return sooner than later," said Brinley. "And Brazil wasn't giving them that kind of return, and hadn't been for awhile."

In Brazil last year, industrywide vehicle sales plummeted 26% and production contracted by nearly one-third from 2019, Ford officials said. Sales were down to half their 2013 levels. And industrywide, capacity utilization in the country hovered at just 40%. 

"The recent devaluation of currencies in the region has increased industrial costs beyond recoverable levels, and the global pandemic has further amplified issues, leading to even higher idle capacity and lower vehicle demand in South America, particularly in Brazil," Watters wrote.

"This decision," he added, "was taken only after we diligently pursued partnerships and selected asset sales. There were no viable options." 

Ford's crosstown rivals, General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, still operate in the region — though GM in recent years has retreated from other international markets, including Europe, as it has pursued an aggressive EV agenda.

Ford said Monday that it will continue to sell vehicles from its global portfolio in South America, including the new Ranger pickup built in Argentina, the Transit van, the Bronco, and Mustang Mach 1. The automaker also hinted at new product offerings for the region, saying that it plans to "accelerate the introduction of several new connected and electrified models" including a  new plug-in vehicle.

The automaker will maintain its product development center in Bahia, its proving ground in Tatuí, São Paulo, and its regional headquarters in São Paulo. It will end sales of EcoSport, Ka and T4 once existing inventories are sold.

The announcement follows Ford's decision at the end of December to scrap an automotive joint venture with Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra, under which the two companies would have jointly developed vehicles for India and other emerging global markets.

Going forward, the Blue Oval insists it's committed to South America and, as in its other markets, will emphasize connected and electric vehicles, and the SUVs, pickups and commercial vehicles where it makes its money.

"We intend to be a leader in the electrification revolution. That includes in South America," said Reid. "Our expectation is that what we're doing will help us create a sustainably profitable business in that part of the world."

 

Ford dominates Car of Year Awards
with F-150 and Mustang Mach-E

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
Jan 12, 2021

Ford Motor Co. dominated the first big award of the 2021 automotive season — the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year — claiming two wins. The Ford F-150 took home Truck of the Year while the Blue Oval’s first all-electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E, won Utility of the Year. Hyundai Elantra’s won for Car of the Year.

The 28th annual NACTOY awards are one of the auto industry’s most prestigious. Selected by an independent group of 50 journalists from across North America (including the author of this article), the prize honors new vehicles that have raised the standards and become new benchmarks for their classes.

“It is always a complex process to bring a vehicle of this magnitude to market,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of the Americas and International Markets Group, on receiving the award for the 14th generation of the best-selling F-150. “It was a process made even more complex by COVID.”

Ford has been the best-selling truck in America for 44 straight years, with a model line that offers models ranging from $30,000 work trucks to luxurious Limited models with sticker prices north of $70k.

The F-150 offers countless configurations across six different powertrains with a hybrid option offered for the first time in 2021. Detroit automakers dominate the pickup segment and the F-150 beat out two other formidable truck models, the off road-oriented Jeep Gladiator Mojave and the first 700-horse pickup, the Ram 1500 TRX.

The SUV category was the year’s most contested as automakers have flooded the market with models to satisfy consumers' unquenchable thirst for all things ute. Of the 43 new vehicles introduced this year, half were SUVs.

The ambitious, battery-powered Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s answer to Tesla Inc.’s successful Model 3 and Model Y model line. The first non-sports car from Ford's Mustang sub-brand, the Mach-E beat out Genesis's first SUV, the GV80, and the iconic Land Rover Defender.

“This is really special in so many ways,” said Galhotra. “The Mach-E is the first new member of the Mustang family in a long time. It represents the future of our company.”

Though sedans make up a diminishing share of the U.S. auto market, Asian manufacturers like Hyundai continue to devote resources to compact cars as a way to attract entry-level buyers and appeal to consumers who prefer to think outside the SUV box. With its 2021 Elantra, Hyundai offers a comprehensive compact lineup to battle segment leader Honda Civic.

“With bold styling and an impressive list of standard high-tech features, along with multiple configurations that include hybrid and high-performance models, the Elantra confirms Hyundai’s serious commitment to the compact car segment,” said NACTOY juror and board member Gary Brauer, executive publisher of CarExpert.com.

The nine finalists for the 2021 model year were weaned from a competitive group of 27 semifinalists judged on criteria including: innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction, and value.

The selection process takes place over 12 months of jury testing and three separate votes. This year was the first time the winners were announced via a virtual event due to the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus. The event was initially scheduled to be held at Detroit’s TCF Center.

 

North American auto industry feels
effects of global microchip shortage

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 11, 2021

Automakers in North America are beginning to feel the effects of a global shortage of semiconductors that has caused a crunch for manufacturers worldwide, adding a wrinkle to the industry's attempted comeback from the coronavirus crisis.

Ford Motor Co. confirmed Friday that it will idle its Louisville Assembly Plant next week "due to a supplier part shortage connected to the semiconductor shortage," company spokeswoman Kelli Felker said.

Ford builds its Escape and the Lincoln Corsair SUVs in Louisville. The automaker said it has moved up a previously planned week of downtime to next week due to the parts shortage. The production stoppage will affect 3,900 workers who will make approximately 75% of their gross pay during that time.

"We are working closely with suppliers to address potential production constraints tied to the global semiconductor shortage," Felker said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Friday that it would delay the restart of its Toluca, Mexico, plant, which builds the Jeep Compass, and would schedule down time at its plant in Brampton, Ontario, which builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger.

"This will minimize the impact of the current semiconductor shortage while ensuring we maintain production at our other North American plants," company spokeswoman Kaileen Connelly said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Toyota Motor Corp.'s North America division told The Detroit News Friday that the automaker has scaled back production of its Texas-built Tundra pickup truck by 40% this month in response to the shortage. Toyota is still evaluating how the shortage might affect other products as the manufacturer attempts to put in place "counter-measures" to minimize the impact.

General Motors Co. has not announced any impact on its production schedules, but spokesman David Barnas said in a statement that the Detroit automaker is "aware of the increased demand for semiconductor microchips as the auto industry continues its global recovery."

"Our supply chain organization is working closely with our supply base to find solutions for our suppliers' semiconductor requirements and to mitigate impacts on GM production," he said.

The shortage is sending a ripple of disruptions across the automotive industry, according to automakers and media reports from around the world. There are a number of factors that explain the parts issue, but a major one has to do with the pandemic.

When large swaths of manufacturing operations ground to a halt in early 2020, suppliers found themselves with plenty of capacity of fill new orders. But as consumer demand bounced back quicker than expected, much of that capacity went to consumer goods such as gaming devices and cell phones.

When the automotive manufacturers resumed production and encountered more robust demand than they had expected, they were essentially at the back of the line.

"If you consider this to be one of those onion analogies, as you pull it apart, it's all going to go down to the pandemic," said Phil Amsrud, senior principal analyst for IHS Markit's automotive semiconductor research area.

Semiconductors are crucial components used in everything from instrument clusters to the infotainment systems that are ubiquitous in modern-day vehicles. And, automakers are increasingly competing with other sectors for the components as they need more of them for technologically-advanced, electric-powered vehicles.

"It's not uncommon in any year for there to be tightness in the supply chain, but a lot of what we're seeing now is a result of, everybody hit the brakes early last year and then has been trying to read the tea leaves to figure out, when do I start ramping production back up?" said Amsrud. "By the time the automotive (manufacturers came) back, all that capacity is consumed elsewhere."

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. is adjusting production of its Note hatchback at its Oppama plant in Japan. A spokeswoman for the automaker's North America operations said: "For the U.S. specifically, we are working closely with our supplier partners to monitor the situation and assess any potential impact on our operations."

The Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, reports that Honda Motor Co. will cut back vehicle production due to the shortage, as well. The Japanese automaker will cut production by about 4,000 units this month, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. said Friday that, due to the shortage, "Honda's purchasing and production teams are currently evaluating this issue in the effort to limit the impact of this situation on our production in North America and maintain our ability to meet the needs of our customers."

German automakers Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, too, have said the shortage will require them to scale back production. Also sounding the alarm: automotive parts manufacturers.

"The disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis have caused extreme volatility in the automotive industry," Continental AG, a German parts maker, said in a statement, explaining that the semiconductor industry has lead times of six to nine months and has not been able to keep up with auto industry demand. "The bottlenecks from the semiconductor industry are expected to continue well into 2021, causing major disruptions in Continental's production."

"Internal taskforces are working 'round-the-clock,'" Continental said. "Despite all efforts unfortunately, we have not been able to avoid requesting our customers to adapt their production or adjust their product mix in specific cases."

Going forward, the company said, it will be "critical" to invest in and expand the capacity of the silicon foundries where these parts originate.

Similarly, multinational Germany-based engineering and technology company Robert Bosch LLC said in a statement that it "cannot divorce itself" from a shortage of semiconductor components.

 "To make matters worse, one semiconductor manufacturer’s investments in expansions and production increases have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in significantly fewer chips being supplied to Bosch," the company said. "Despite the difficult market situation, Bosch is doing all it can to keep its customers supplied and to keep any further impact to a minimum."

And the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has warned of a "relatively big impact" to some production in the world's largest auto market in the first quarter due to the shortage, according to a December IHS Markit research note on the issue. 

The supply-chain constraint comes as the global auto industry undertakes a recovery from the early days of the pandemic, which shuttered production in North America for eight weeks in the spring of 2020. Auto plants have largely avoided any major disruptions related to the virus spreading among workers, but other pandemic-related supply issues have at times slowed down production.

IHS Markit's analysts don't see this as a long-term problem for the industry, but one that could cause production snarls through the first half of the year. 

"It's a mix problem; too much of it is going to consumer applications, compared to automotive. That will self-correct over time," Amsrud said. "We'll get through this, even though it's going to be an uncomfortable period of time until we get there."

 

Ford Maverick compact pickup
truck leaks in new photo

Sean Szymkowski  
MSN News
January 10, 2021

Ford's done selling passenger cars -- it's all-in on trucks and SUVs . But the Blue Oval knows it needs to keep things somewhat affordable, and you could well be looking at one of two vehicles that will become entry-level models at Ford dealerships: the Maverick pickup truck.

The photo published on the Maverick Truck Club forum with zero sourcing, but doing a little bit of digging, it's highly likely this is the Maverick. Rumor says the compact truck will enter production at Ford's plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, and the the interior of the plant looks nearly identical to photos of the Ford Bronco Sport, which is currently built at the factory, rolling down the production line. We at first thought it could be the next-generation Ranger due to its seriously upright stance and proportions, but we do indeed believe this is the compact truck instead.

Ford did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment on the photo, though we expect crickets when it comes to a leak like this.

The Maverick, the frontrunner nameplate for this new truck, will be one of two new Fords we've heard of that are meant to serve as entry-level vehicles at Ford dealerships. Dealer sources previously said Ford showed the Maverick and a currently unnamed crossover at a dealership meeting, and both will be very affordable, around $20,000 to start, apparently. The second vehicle will replace the mediocre Ecosport in Ford's lineup.

How can Ford build a pickup and sell it so cheaply? This will not be a body-on-frame vehicle. Instead, it should ride on Ford's C2 architecture that underpins the latest-generation Focus sold abroad, the Escape and the 2021 Bronco Sport. As mentioned, the Bronco Sport is already in production at this Mexican factory. The little SUV also highlights how good Ford is at taking a unibody platform and making it look like a rough and tough thing. The Maverick looks to take the same lessons away with a blocky front end. We also saw a leaked photo of the truck's tailgate last year, too.

We don't have solid information on when the Maverick will make a formal debut, but if Ford's busy building prototypes, we'll likely hear more soon.

 

GM, Ford convert hundreds of
temps to permanent employees

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Jan 7, 2021

Detroit — More than 650 General Motors Co. temporary employees and nearly 400 Ford Motor Co. employees will become permanent full-time employees this month, the automakers said Monday. 

GM and Ford Motor Co. both have agreements with the United Auto Workers to convert temporary employees to permanent positions so they can reach top wages and benefits like others have on the line. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' contract with the union doesn't set conversion dates like the agreements at Ford and GM.

The union fought during the 2019 negotiations with the Detroit Three to secure a pathway for temporary workers to become permanent employees, increasing their pay and providing them benefits not accessible to temps. The fight included a 40-day strike against GM. 

"This life-changing event is a testament to our members' hard work as permanent temporary employees and the power of collective bargaining that created this defined path for them to seniority status," UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. 

Among the plants with converted temp positions are GM's major truck plants in Flint and Fort Wayne, Indiana, and its large SUV plant in Arlington, Texas. These plants have been running overtime to keep up with high demand for the product while inventories have been tight because of an eight-week COVID-19 shutdown last spring. 

Ford made temp employees permanent at Kansas City Assembly where F-150s and Transit vans are made, and at Kentucky Truck where employees build the Super Duty trucks, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. 

Last January, GM converted more than 900 temporary employee positions across 30 facilities and Ford converted 592.

FCA is filling 3,850 jobs at its $1.6 billion Mack plant and another 1,100 jobs at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant once that plant gets a $900 million update, which hasn't started.

In filling those full-time positions, the company is granting current supplemental workers the first opportunity at those jobs to meet contractual obligations with the UAW.

 

In latest management shakeup,
Ford announces new U.S.,
Canada sales lead

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 6, 2021

Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced a new sales leader for the United States and Canada, the latest in a string of management shakeups under new CEO Jim Farley.

Andrew Frick, a 25-year company veteran who most recently served as director of U.S. sales, became vice president of sales for the U.S. and Canada effective Monday. He replaces Mark LaNeve, who the company said had "elected to depart Ford ... in order to pursue the next chapter of his professional life."

The company previously announced the replacement of the chief financial officer, as well as the retirements of its chief information officer, president of its international markets group, and chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer.

Additionally, the Dearborn automaker said it would separate the jobs of chief marketing officer and leading the Lincoln brand, roles that previously were combined.

The Blue Oval has also made a number of staffing changes that reflect its ongoing transition to electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as the opportunities it sees in digitally-connected vehicles offering data-driven services, particularly for commercial customers.

Upon stepping up as CEO, Farley laid out a plan that calls for the automaker to overhaul its automotive operations by improving quality, reducing costs and speeding up the restructuring of underperforming businesses. The plan includes allocating more resources to the automaker's strongest businesses and vehicles, expanding its commercial vehicle business and adding more affordable vehicles to its lineup, among other steps.

Frick, 47, has experience at both Ford and Lincoln, having served in numerous regional roles in the U.S., Asia Pacific, the Caribbean and Central America. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Villanova University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Michigan.

In his new role, he'll be responsible for sales, customer care and dealer relations for the Ford brand in the U.S. and Canada. He'll report to Kumar Galhotra, president of the Americas and international markets group.

"Andrew brings deep product knowledge, a passion for customers, excellent dealer relations and a proven track record of results to the critical role of leading the sales organization in our largest market," Galhotra said in a statement.

"His leadership will be critical as Ford continues to turn around its automotive operations, especially with exciting new products and ever-improving quality, modernizing all aspects of the company and disrupting our conventional automotive businesses to better serve customers."

LaNeve, 61, joined Ford in 2015 after a three-year stint leading Global Team Blue, the company's marketing and advertising agency. He previously served as CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, general manager of General Motors Co.'s Cadillac brand, vice president of sales, service and marketing at GM, then as chief marketing officer and head of agency relationships at the Allstate Corp.

Galhotra credited LaNeve with improving the retail experience, increasing market share, helping make dealerships safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, and helping achieve record sales of the F-150.

Frick steps into the role as the automaker targets a 10% operating margin in North America, its most important and profitable market globally.

The move comes amid one of the most significant portfolio refreshes the automaker has undertaken, with the new electric Mustang Mach-E and redesigned F-150 now arriving at dealerships and the resurrected Bronco SUV launching this year. Electric F-150s and Transit commercial vans come next year, all part of the automaker's strategy of leveraging its most popular and iconic brands as it approaches a future dominated by electric vehicles.

 

Canada’s top paid CEOs
will earn the average yearly
income by noon on Jan. 4

By David Lao  
Global News

January 5, 2021

By the time most Canadians settle back into their work-from-home offices on the first working day of the year, Canada’s top CEOs would have already made the average worker’s salary — $53,482 — according to new research from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The report said that the average top-paid CEO would have made that average income by 11:17 a.m.ET Monday, about an hour later than the previous year. It also found that in 2019, the average top Canadian CEO made 202 times more than the average worker in the same year, which was down from a record 227 times the previous year.

“There’s a real golden cushion for a lot of these CEOs, who have seen years of outrageous pay, this will cushion them and their wealth in a sense, but for many of them they will actually see an increase in their pay because their stock has done fairly well during the pandemic,” said David Macdonald, the report’s author and senior economist for the CCPA.

According to Macdonald, most CEO pay is not in salary, but is handed out to them in bonuses and that because of this, it wouldn’t be possible yet to calculate how much they made in the most recent year. About 82 per cent of this year’s average top CEO income of $10.8 million is made up of bonuses, he added.

While the research found the wage gap had narrowed slightly compared to the previous year, McDonald said that changes to executive pay structure would certainly have to be made, especially given the financial hardships caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Over a third of the top 100 CEOs of 2019 were found to have ran companies that applied for and received payroll support in 2020 through the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), while about half of that 100 was expected to either retain their compensation or see a raise during the pandemic due to the stock market boom.

“I still don’t think there’s any way we can avoid it, it’s not built into the rules as it is in other countries like the Netherlands or Spain where you can’t pay out shareholders and executive bonuses at the same time as you’re receiving their version of the wage subsidy,” Macdonald said.

“But we can put those rules into place, we haven’t so far, so I think it’s basically guaranteed we’re going to see massive executive bonuses going at the same time as the federal government paying the wages of the companies.”

Macdonald’s research also found that there was roughly 15 per cent people working less among those who were making $17 an hour or less, while the workers with the “highest wages” fully recovered by July.

According to a 2020 report from the Fraser Institute, CEO pay has increased in recent years due to an increasing demand in skills and competition in the industry.

“The best business leaders in the world, just like top professional athletes and entertainers, are in limited supply while also being in high demand globally, so the compensation they receive reflects that,” wrote Vincent Geloso, the report’s author, in a press release.

According to Geloso’s report, the gap between CEO and worker pay in Canada is “overestimated” due to many other comparisons factoring in CEO bonuses. Geloso also argued that the high pay was justified due to the high amount of executive turnover, citing a Globe and Mail survey that found only 15 of the top 100 CEOs remained in the list between 2007 and 2017.

Macdonald, on the other hand, argues that given the economic turmoil of the pandemic, several tweaks have to be made to Canadian tax and wage policy — starting with the federal government restricting the CEWS only to companies that are not paying out executive bonuses, as well as excluding it from companies that substantially increase executive salaries.

1:50New report says women CEOs are paid less than men

New report says women CEOs are paid less than men – Jan 2, 2019

“The argument so far is that the federal government is that companies are using the wage subsidy to pay employees, which they are, but the issue is that we can’t be having companies reward the executives while we’re paying the payroll, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen unless that stipulation is made,” he said.

Aside from that, Macdonald recommended eliminating executive tax benefits, introducing new marginal tax rates on extreme incomes and increasing the tax rate on those who made more during the pandemic to close the gap.

“One of the places they should be looking at for revenue is to people who have done particularly well from the pandemic, it has not been bad for everyone — a lot of these CEOs would come out of this much better off as a result of the pandemic, and those are the types of people who should be asked to pay a little bit more. They made substantially more, so they should chip in a little bit more.”

Canadian cases

CONFIRMED

600,667

(Today: +3,270)

DEATHS

15,894

(Today: +29)

RECOVERED

507,046

(Today: +2,074)

18,771,048tests administered (Today: +39,121)

 

Daimler fines for slow recalls
could reach $30 million

Associated Press
Jan 4, 2021

Washington – Failing to recall vehicles quickly enough could cost Daimler Trucks up to $30 million in fines and other costs.

In penalties announced Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Daimler also failed to comply with other reporting requirements. They include an upfront fine of $10 million, another $5 million the automaker must spend on safety enhancements, and a deferred $15 million penalty, which may or may not have to be paid.

The order stems from several recalls between 2017 and 2018. Daimler said there have been no known accidents or injuries related to what it called “voluntary recalls.”

The consent order, which lasts from two to three years, requires Daimler to improve its ability to detect and investigate potential safety defects in its vehicles. The company must also improve its collection of safety information from its businesses and report the information accurately to regulators at NHTSA. It also requires Daimler to develop written procedures and training for employees who work on recalls and reporting requirements.

“We appreciate the opportunity to summarily resolve this matter and continue building safe, efficient and reliable commercial vehicles,” Daimler Trucks said in a prepared statement Thursday.

 

Americans to #FinishStrong
during critical pandemic period

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 2, 2021

The voice of actor Bryan Cranston intones over shots of frontline health-care workers, a COVID-19 survivor and essential workers wearing face masks: "We are so close. Soon we will be what were — touching, loving, living. Let's finish strong."

That's the message behind a forthcoming advertising campaign Ford Motor Co. is debuting Friday during several college football bowl games that are sure to draw millions of viewers. The 30-second video, which will run across various television spots through at least Jan. 3, aims to persuade Americans that it's their patriotic duty to participate in COVID-19 mitigation efforts as newly released vaccines bring hope for an end to a pandemic that to date has killed more than 335,000 people in the U.S.

"While many are weary from the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, now is the time for us to pull together, protect each other and finish strong until COVID-19 vaccines arrive more broadly," Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford's Americas and International Markets Group, said in a statement. "Lives are on the line."

The Finish Strong campaign is just the latest prong in the Dearborn automaker's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after the first cases of the deadly virus were confirmed in the U.S. in March, Ford quickly shifted gears and began producing much-needed medical and protective equipment for COVID-19 patients, frontline workers, underserved communities and others across the country.

To date, the Blue Oval has manufactured 55 million face masks and expects to have made enough to donate 100 million masks by mid-2021. Details of the mask donation program are available at FordFund.org.

The company — with the help of United Auto Workers members and in some cases manufacturing partners — has also made 20 million face shields, 50,000 ventilators for the federal stockpile, more than 32,000 powered air-purifying respirators and 1.4 million washable isolation gowns.

A shot from Ford new's #FinishStrong ad, directed by Peter Berg and debuting Jan. 1.

The idea for #FinishStrong developed as the company learned from health care workers and experts about the critical period the U.S. is in, as cases and deaths continue to strain hospitals, even as initial rounds of vaccinations have begun.

"The goal was, how could we help rally around this idea that we're almost there?" said Mark Truby, Ford's chief communications officer. "Vaccines are around the corner, but we know from health care experts that as many as 50,000 more American lives could be saved between now and when we have mass adoption of vaccines ... if we were to follow proper COVID protocols as a society."

Rather than preaching to people about mask-wearing, which has become a hyper-partisan issue, Ford and its advertising partners wanted to come up with a unifying message that appeals to viewers' sense of patriotism and morality. They selected filmmaker Peter Berg, whose credits include the popular "Friday Night Lights" television show, to direct the commercial.

A shot from the new #FinishStrong ad that Ford will debut during college football bowl games on New Year's Day.

The automaker had already bought up ad spots for highly watched football games over the first three days of the new year, and opted to divert to the Finish Strong campaign about half the time it would have devoted to a new ad for the 2021 F-150 pickup truck that it's in the midst of introducin.

The commercial will debut Jan. 1 during the Citrus Bowl on ABC and the Peach, Rose and Sugar bowls on ESPN. It will also run during bowl games on Jan. 2 and during Fox NFL games Jan. 3, for a total of about 20 time slots dedicated to the commercial. Ford has also enlisted its various partners to participate in a social media campaign around the #FinishStrong mantra, and is sharing the message across its workforce as well.

"The goal is to try to help, as we enter into the new year, shift the sentiment," said Truby. "Rather than looking at things as a political issue or a partisan issue, how do we come together to try to help save lives and finish these next few months that are going to be so critical, in a spirit of protecting each other?"

 

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