Ford to create new R&D centre in Ottawa as part of $1.2B Ontario investment

Vehicle manufacturer hiring up to 300 Ottawa staff as part of a $337.9M investment in the city
Ford

Auto giant Ford is turning to Ottawa to build a research and development hub for its connected car technology as part of a $1-billion investment in its Canadian operations.

The vehicle manufacturer announced the move at its Windsor facility on Thursday morning. The company says it will employ up to 300 people in Ottawa as part of a $337.9 million investment in the city. The federal and Ontario governments also announced spending of $102.4 million each towards Ford’s Canadian initiatives.

The new facility, dubbed the Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre, will focus on developing autonomous driving technology as part of Ford’s mobile connectivity team. Infotainment, driver-assist and other connected car modules are among the technologies slated for development in the centre.

Ford’s partnership with the federal and provincial governments comes one month after Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and a team of envoys lobbied Queen’s Park to make investments towards creating an autonomous vehicles hub in the Capital.

While neither a location nor timeline has been given for the opening of the R&D centre, Ford will be closeby to recent partner BlackBerry QNX. The two autonomous vehicle technology developers announced a partnership to test QNX’s software in Ford’s vehicles. The Ottawa-based company’s software is already present in the infotainment systems of more than 60 million Ford cars.

BlackBerry announced in December that it would be adding 650 jobs to its Ottawa location in an effort to build its own autonomous vehicles innovation centre.

“This investment demonstrates how Ford is transforming to be both an auto and mobility company. With strategic partnerships, Canada can compete and win in the global auto industry,” said Mark Buzzell, president and CEO of Ford Canada, in a statement.

The remainder of the spending, some of which has been announced over the past six months, will go towards developing satellite engineering centres in Waterloo and Oakville, as well as further developing the Windsor plant’s engine manufacturing operations.

“Technology and innovation never stand still, so it’s essential that Ontario’s auto sector keeps driving ahead to remain globally competitive. Ford is a cornerstone of our sector and is dedicated to research and development. With this substantial partnership, the company and provincial and federal governments are joining forces to ensure Ford will remain a leader in building the vehicles of tomorrow — right here in Ontario,” said Ontario minister of economic development and growth Brad Duguid in a statement.