GM Canada revved up over Camaro
Unit head and CAW want to get muscle car back here
AUTO INDUSTRY REPORTER
TORONTO -- The Chevrolet Camaro may again roar out of a General Motors Corp.
plant in Canada, if Michael Grimaldi has his way.
"We're seriously looking at: can we bring that here to Canada," Mr. Grimaldi, president of General Motors of Canada Ltd., said.
He cautioned that GM's board has not even approved the return of the muscle car to production, let alone where it would be assembled, but the concept version that the auto maker introduced last month in Detroit has won rave reviews.
A red Camaro is on display at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, which opens to the public today.
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GM needs to determine first if it makes sense to build the car, Mr. Grimaldi said in an interview at the show.
"In order to earn that product here for Canada, I along with all of my stakeholders -- the CAW, potentially the government -- we've got to figure out, how do we make the Canadian operations for GM the best place to potentially build that new vehicle," he said.
The Camaro went out of production in 2002 along with its Pontiac twin, the Firebird, which led to the closing of GM's plant in Ste-Th?r?se, Que. The muscle machines became a victim of rising gasoline prices and soaring insurance costs.
Canadian Auto Workers union president Buzz Hargrove thinks that means GM has a moral obligation to assemble the car in Canada if it gets resurrected.
Mr. Hargrove has put that case to Mr. Grimaldi since GM unveiled the Camaro in Detroit.
"If they do make the decision to build I think that we've convinced [Mr. Grimaldi] that he should be joining us with the argument it should be built in Canada," Mr. Hargrove said yesterday.
The CAW leader is looking for a way to save GM's Oshawa, Ont., No. 2 car assembly plant, which the auto maker earmarked for closing in 2008 as part of a restructuring plan announced in November that includes job cuts and permanent plant shutdowns.
"I'd prefer to save Oshawa 2 with another product and get [Camaro] in addition to that," he said.
Industry sources aren't sure which GM platform will provide the basic underbody for the car, which makes it hard to identify where it might be built.