News Roundup: Trucks to Oshawa, Versa Returns, 640 hp EV Audi, More
In this week's news roundup there's big news for Canadian auto production as Oshawa Assembly could reopen soon. Meanwhile, the Nissan Versa is back, Subaru's Impreza is the lowest-priced AWD in the country once again, the Outback and Legacy get some more standard equipment, Volvo and Bentley announce big moves to electrification, and Audi's RS e-tron GT will be the most powerful Audi yet.
Unifor, which represents GM workers at the automaker’s multiple sites in Canada revealed a big surprise with the announcement of a tentative agreement made mid last week: Production is coming back to Oshawa Assembly, starting with the HD Silverado and Sierra at the start of 2022, if the agreement is ratified. Up to $1.3B in investment would bring two and possibly three shifts to the plant, said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, and that the agreement would also bring new transmission products to the St Catharine’s Powertrain plant and stabilize operations in Woodstock, ON. The production shutdown in Oshawa was announced in 2018 and took place earlier this year. A last-minute agreement transitioned a small portion of operations to become a parts stamping facility, and the grounds set to be used for autonomous vehicle testing. GM is the last of the big three to reach a tentative agreement with the union, who have said that this year’s agreements will bring more than $4.7 billion in investment to the Canadian auto sector. Members have yet to finish voting on ratification of the tentative agreement.
While the subcompact sedan segment is quickly disappearing, Nissan is returning to the segment for the first time since 2014. The Versa sedan goes on sale this month at dealers in Canada, starting from $16,498 or $1,500 more for the CVT. All Versa sedans get a 1.6L four with 122 hp, and even the base model includes forward collision warning with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, plus lane departure warning. Air, power windows, and push-button start are included, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are limited to higher-trim cars. The Versa SV starts from $19,498 with CVT and the top-spec SR is $20,998.
Subaru has announced that the Impreza will remain the lowest-priced new all-wheel drive option in the country. For 2021, the Impreza stays at $19,995 with a five-speed manual or $2,000 more for the CVT (add $1,000 to each for the hatch). Subaru is adding some content to the cars as well, with automatic headlights on all trim levels and a heated wheel has been added to Touring.
Likewise, price changes are small for the Outback wagon and Legacy sedan. Both are $300 more for 2021, at $30,995 and $26,695 respectively, but for that money all models get LED steering responsive headlights as standard as well as a rear seatbelt reminder. For Touring and up, a heated wheel is now standard.
Audi has revealed more about the RS e-tron GT, the brand’s first electric RS model that’s set to launch here next year. It will have a twin-motor powertrain that includes a two-speed gearbox in the rear, while a maximum of 640 hp on overboost makes it the most powerful road-going Audi yet. The 800V architecture allows for 270 kW fast charging of the 93.4 kWh battery pack, with most of the underpinnings shared with the Porsche Taycan. Audi says the e-tron GT will be uniquely Audi, though, and that includes the three-chamber air suspension that rises for comfort, lowers for performance, and drops even more for maximum aerodynamic slipperiness.
Volvo announced a new internal EV-development lab to help its existing sites design new electric motors, as the company works to move quickly to electric. Currently, all of the automaker’s models are available as hybrids, but it wants to go beyond. Fifty per cent of sales to be fully electric by 2025, with the rest hybrids. So no gas-only cars in a very short period of time. They aren’t the only ones looking at moving electric in a hurry, while they currently offer zero such models, Bentley plans to be EV and PHEV only by 2026, and entire EV by 2030. Expect two plug-in hybrids to launch next year and start the new rush.