Dearborn automaker Ford Motor Co. today announced a $500 million investment to expand its Canadian R&D presence and extend its connectivity leadership with the addition of more than 400 software and hardware engineers at the new Ottawa Research and Engineering Center.
Approximately 300 engineers will be based in Canada, which would nearly double the size of Ford’s mobile connectivity engineering team. Ford says the investment will accelerate its pace of innovation, expand services, and leverage the potential of the connected vehicle market.
“Connectivity is the critical component to the future of mobility,” says Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and CTO. “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 center, we can innovate faster and deliver more software and services to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
The new Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre will focus on R&D in infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features, and autonomous vehicles.
Additional facilities will be located in Waterloo and Oakville, Ontario, as well as Cary, N.C. and Sunrise, Fla. It will be Ford’s first center focused on connectivity research and advanced technology in Canada, and will serve Ford’s global connectivity needs.
The global connected car market will reach $131 billion by 2019, with an annual growth rate of 30 per cent per year, according to a study by Transparency Market Research. Ford is one of the leaders in the marketplace with built-in modems that are offered across multiple vehicle lines. The automaker plans to equip 20 million cars globally with built-in modems in the next five years.
“Canada has reinforced its position in Ford’s global operations as the company shifts to lead as both an auto and mobility company,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas. “With this commitment and the support from key strategic partners, we have established a strong future for the highly-skilled and talented employees across Canadian operations.”
Part of the R&D investment relates to research at Ford’s Windsor and Oakville Operations, where Ford will be increasing its sustainability and fuel efficiency research capacity. Advancing powertrain technologies, alternative fuels, and lightweighting development at Windsor’s Powertrain Engineering Research and Development Centre (PERDC), as well as furthering Ford’s patented research focused on capturing industrial emissions and converting them to useable fuel at the Fumes-to-Fuel Research Development Centre in the Oakville Assembly Complex, will be supported.
In the past six months, Ford has invested $1.2 billion in Canada, including $700 million in its manufacturing facilities.