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Oshawa financing could save thousands of GM jobs News Staff

General Motors Corp. may soon approve a $400-million investment in its Oshawa, Ont. operations, a move that could save thousands of jobs, according to a report.

The Globe and Mail reported that the financing would help to transform the two Oshawa car operations into one leading-edge plant, which would produce 505,000 cars a year, including the reborn Chevrolet Camaro, plus cars for Cadillac and Buick.

The revamp would be welcome news for workers in Oshawa, where the second plant was scheduled to close in 2008, wiping out 2,500 jobs.
The investment is linked with a new GM program called Zeta, which will allow the company to crank rear-wheel-drive cars in the mid-sized vehicle market, industry sources told the newspaper.

GM needs to introduce this program to stay competitive with its rivals.
Both the Chrysler division of DaimlerChrysler AG and Ford Motor Co. are offering such cars, which are regaining popularity because of their superior performance.

GM would first crank out Chevrolet Impala in June 2009, with expected annual sales of 165,000 cars.

Next would be the Camaro in September 2009 with annual sales projected at 100,000 a year, followed by the Cadillac DTS sedan in June 2010 and the Buick Lucerne in October 2010.

A GM source told the Globe that Zeta, a basic car underbody, will be the base for several vehicles.

One GM source told the Globe that Oshawa's chances of winning the investment look promising.

"I don't think there's any question that Zeta will happen here," said another industry source.

But GM Canada spokesman told the newspaper that it's not company policy to comment on future vehicle programs and said the GM board has not approved a decision to redevelop the Oshawa plants.

GM is under intense pressure to make the investment from the provincial and federal governments after they provided the firm with $435 million in financing last year for the Beacon Project.

The initiative is meant to upgrade assembly operations, implement new automotive research and training initiatives, and upgrade parts operations in St. Catharines, Windsor and its CAMI Automotive joint venture with Suzuki in Ingersoll, Ont.
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