Ford Motor Co. finally removed the cloak of secrecy around its offices in Ottawa, showing it about to be launched the 2020 Ford Explorer and using the new vehicle to explain all the development that the company is now performing in the nation's capital.
The automaker reached an agreement with BlackBerry Ltd. in October 2017 to see up to 400 workers transferred from the old handset giant to Ford to accelerate research and development, especially in the areas of telecommunications and software.
The announcement was part of a larger investment of $ 1 billion that Ford is investing in its facilities in Canada. The federal and provincial governments also provided up to $ 102.4 million in funding.
The move has allowed Ford to create what it is calling connectivity and innovation centers in Ottawa, Waterloo and Oakville. When the Ottawa office opened in March 2018, Ford had about 150 employees here. Today there are more than 300.
"We can not disclose our ambitions because they are based on a lot of planning elements. But the fact that we are moving to another building, even bigger than this one, says we are very ambitious," said Zoltan Racz, chief engineer of connectivity centers and innovation in Ontario.
The wealth of technological talent Ford has found in the nation's capital is pushing to accelerate its plans for the offices here, he added. "This is phenomenal. It's a hidden gem. There is a huge and valuable pool of talent. This is highly exclusive to Ottawa. It used to be, and still is, the telecommunications and data communications capital of Canada. "
Ford's offices at the 700 Palladium Dr., alongside the Canadian Tire Center, occupied more than 40,000 square feet of space, and the company secured 20,000 square feet at 770 Palladium Dr. Street to facilitate expansion.
The company also has signed a contract with Cominar real estate company for 62 thousand square meters in a building that is being built in 800 palladium. Initially, Ford had only expressed interest in 40,000 square feet in the building, which is expected to be completed by 2020. Cominar said Ford plans to add more than 300 jobs with the addition of new space by doubling its workforce in Ottawa.
Ford did not comment on the exact number of employees or provide details on whether it planned to change the 700 and 770 Palladium Dr. when the new facility is complete.
The company is using its offices in Ottawa to lead research and development of software to drive new cellular antenna technologies, which should be standard features in Ford vehicles. The antennas, which will be installed in Explorer 2020, allow the vehicle to have its own cellular connection to facilitate the sending and receiving of data, telephone calls, diagnostic information and connection maintenance wherever there is a 4G (LTE) cellular service.
The company is also researching state-of-the-art 5G cellular technologies for future models.
The large contingent of employees who came from Ford to the BlackBerry QNX, which builds the operating system for Ford vehicles, allowed the company to more easily build the latest version of its Sync 3 infotainment system.
The system, which allows drivers to quickly navigate between various functions – including satellite radio, navigation systems, air conditioning and even voice-activated features – is the first to be built by Ford. The automaker said its Ottawa offices played a key role in building and testing the system, which will be launched in 2020, starting with Explorer.
While opening the new office provoked a bright spot for Ford, it also created headaches for the BlackBerry. A class action lawsuit against BlackBerry was filed on behalf of the nearly 400 employees who were transferred to Ford, alleging that employees lost their right to compensation after being transferred.
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