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General Motors Considers Oshawa Plant for Camaro, Grimaldi Says

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp.'s plant in Oshawa, Ontario, may be a strong contender to build a new Camaro muscle car because of cost-cutting concessions from the union, the head of the automaker's Canadian unit said.

The rank-and-file ratified an agreement that would make Oshawa potentially a very attractive place to build some new product,'' GM Canada President Michael Grimaldi said today in an interview in Toronto. Those products might include the Camaro, which GM may revive after dropping the model in 2002, he said.

Canadian Auto Workers members at three Oshawa plants agreed to let GM contract out about 390 non-production jobs, reduce break times, and use temporary employees when extra workers are needed, union spokesman Peter Kennedy said March 10. The accord depends on one of the Oshawa plants getting new rear-wheel-drive vehicles. GM is considering whether to such vehicles at Oshawa Plant No. 1, which now makes front-wheel-drive Impala cars.

GM, the world's largest automaker, is trimming expenses in North America after its automotive operations in the region contributed to a $10.6 billion net loss last year. The Detroit- based company intends to close 12 North American facilities, including one of the three Oshawa plants.

The automaker also is bringing out new models to spur demand after its U.S. sales fell 4.3 percent last year and it lost more market share to Asian rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp. GM showed a Camaro concept in January, and Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the company would decide within six months whether to build a new version of the iconic car.

We're right now working to determine if we can put a viable business plan together for that product, and with some of the work that the Oshawa local has done, they're making Oshawa potentially the manufacturing site for that product,'' Grimaldi said. The Ontario site also might build new versions of current models, he said.

Union leaders had said approving the concessions might save about 1,000 jobs at Oshawa Plant No. 1 that GM said in November would be eliminated.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Doug Alexander in Toronto at [email protected]
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