Camaro to return, in Canada

August 22, 2006|By DETROIT FREE PRESS

DETROIT -- The revival of the Chevrolet Camaro - known throughout its past life as an American muscle car and promoted as such in its new one - is headed to Oshawa, Ontario.

General Motors of Canada announced yesterday that the GM Oshawa Car Assembly Plant will make the 2009 Camaro. GM will spend $660 million to convert the plant to a flexible manufacturing facility capable of producing the new car.

The return of the Camaro, canceled in 2002, is highly anticipated by auto enthusiasts. Production at Oshawa is to begin in 2008 with the vehicle coming to market early the next year.

Oshawa's selection comes as no surprise, said Michael Robinet, vice president of global forecast services for CSM Worldwide, an automotive consulting firm in Northville, Mich.

Oshawa routinely ranks as one of the most efficient auto plants in North America in the annual Harbour Report. It makes the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, the Buick Lacrosse and the Pontiac Grand Prix. The Camaro will be built off a new rear-wheel-drive platform.

"Oshawa has had a good track record in the past for launching key platforms for General Motors," Robinet said.

He said the Camaro could be the start of good news for Oshawa, as other new vehicles will follow.

"You can't look at this just as the Camaro," Robinet said. "You just don't put one vehicle into this plant. They're going to be putting a host of vehicles into this facility and the Camaro is just the first one off this platform."

GM executives have billed the new Camaro as a way to help the company reconnect with its U.S. muscle-car roots, which might make the choice of a Canadian plant sound odd.

But the Camaro has Canadian ties, too. From 1993 until its final run in 2002, the Camaro was built in Ste. Therese, Quebec. That plant has been closed.

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