Now Devoid of Cars, GM Assembly Plant to Fill With Masks

It was a sad day when General Motors all but mothballed its Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant — a manufacturing site that had cranked out cars since 1907 — but new production will soon be underway.

Not of sedans or pickups, the latter of which happened to be the plant’s last vehicular products when it ceased assembly in 2019, but masks. A lot of masks.

Like GM’s sudden switch to personal protective equipment production in Michigan, the automaker’s Canadian arm will likewise dive into the assembly of PPE to feed the Canadian healthcare sector.

There’ll be no ventilators coming out of Oshawa Assembly, which is still idled after performing final assembly on its last previous-gen full-size pickup last year, but there will be masks of the basic, non-N95 variety.

“We plan to manufacture approximately one million masks per month at cost for the Canadian government with an estimate of 50 employees supporting two shifts of production,” GM Canada said in a statement Friday. “The project till requires completion of additional work with our governments and our Unifor partners and we will provide updates as we get ready to begin production.”

More than 2,000 workers lost their jobs when Oshawa Assembly closed its doors in December, the result of a global streamlining effort that saw Lordstown Assembly in Ohio sold off to a fledgling EV maker. Unlike that plant, Oshawa will remain in GM’s hands, converting into a stamping operation and an autonomous vehicle test facility with far fewer workers on site. Once upon a time, Oshawa built Chevrolet Impalas and Camaros.

The masks going into production in Oshawa in the near future will be a direct copy of those made in Warren, Michigan.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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