Editor's note: Earlier versions of this story misspelled the surname of Ford of Canada CEO Mark Buzzell.
WINDSOR, Ontario -- Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it’s spent $375 million (C$500 million) to add about 400 engineers and create a research and engineering center in Canada's capital to enhance connected vehicle technology.
The Ottawa center, which opened this month, will focus on infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, handset integration, driver assist features and autonomous vehicles. It will employ 300 engineers.
Ford has similar centers in Waterloo and Oakville, Ontario, as well as in North Carolina and Florida. It added 100 engineers across its sites in the U.S.
The 400 new hires previously worked at Blackberry’s mobile communications group and have experience working with QNX, the operating system Ford uses for its Sync 3 infotainment system.
“Connectivity is the critical component to the future of mobility,” Raj Nair, Ford’s head of global product development and chief technical officer, said in a statement. “Whether it’s providing information to help reduce congestion in cities, allowing vehicles and infrastructure to communicate to keep us safer on the road or simply knowing all your personal settings when you enter a self-driving vehicle, connectivity is the key. By more than doubling our connectivity talent and establishing a research centre, we can innovate faster and deliver more software and services to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
Ford made the announcement Thursday at its Essex engine plant here. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ford of Canada CEO Mark Buzzell and Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, were on hand.
The company is adding a global engine to its Essex and Windsor plants -- which it negotiated as part of the 2016 contract talks with Canadian labor union Unifor -- but neither Hinrichs nor Buzzell would offer additional details Thursday.
“All we’ve said is that it’s going to be a global engine and we’re going to install all kinds of flexible equipment, but we’re not saying anything about the engine, yet,” Hinrichs said. “We’re not talking about jobs, yet, either.”
Hinrichs said retooling will cover the Essex Engine Plant and the nearby Windsor Engine Plant, adding the work will start soon. Equipment is already on the shop floor.