Highlights of the year’s major events affecting Canada:

  • Honda becomes the top-selling light-vehicle auto maker in Canada for 2011, up 126.9% from prior-year. The gain helps Asian brands capture a combined 45% market share following losses caused by disasters in Japan and Thailand. Medium- and heavy-truck deliveries also see gains in 2011, with volume surging 33.3% to 38,234 units.
     
  • The Canadian government in March announces investments totaling C$34 million ($33.9 million) in six research projects for vehicle fuel-saving technologies.

    Projects will explore titanium-based powder production for low-cost parts manufacturing; low-cost lithium-ion batteries; fabrication of magnesium-intensive multi-material parts and structures; low-cost platinum fuel cells; meso-, molecular- and nano-scale function of Li-ion batteries; and electrohydraulic metal-forming.
     
  • Lexus considers adding production to North America after consistent success with its Cambridge, ON, plant, where the RX cross/utility vehicle is built. Nothing is confirmed, but conversations are “more serious” now than in the past two decades, a top executive says in May.
     
  • Concern for union workers stirs after Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza persuades lawmakers in July to halt further auto industry divestment in the wake of General Motors’ decision to close one of its Oshawa, ON, assembly lines.

    The move would have resulted in removing about 115,000 units of production from a facility that once produced 1 million vehicles, but GM agrees to extend production on the line until 2014.
     
  • The Detroit Three narrowly avoid a production standstill as CAW workers ratify new contracts at the 11th hour that guarantee a 2-wage-scale system and signing bonuses for new hires in September.

    The agreements call for new hires to start at a lower rate than longtime employees, with elevated wages to start after 10 years of service. They also call for C$3,000 ($2,995) signing bonuses and suspension of cost-of-living allowances until 2016.
     
  • Allen Childs retires in October as president of Nissan Canada effective Jan. 1. Childs, who has spent more than two decades with the auto maker, is succeeded by Nissan Brazil President Christian Meunier. Manuel de la Garcia of Nissan Iberia assumes responsibility for Brazilian operations.
     
  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder continues a push for a second bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada, which he says will be good for the auto industry.

    With financial support from the Canadian government, Snyder inks a tentative deal for the second bridge that he says would ease traffic on the existing Ambassador Bridge, thus helping suppliers and auto makers carrying parts between Southern Ontario and elsewhere in the U.S.

    Michigan voters in November reject a proposal requiring a public vote on the second bridge, but opponents threaten a lawsuit to block construction.
     
  • The CAW turns its attention to a national auto policy for Canada that would create and preserve jobs in the country as well as maintain its place in the global auto industry. The union also hopes to unionize Honda’s Alliston, ON, plant, which builds the Honda Civic small car and CR-V cross utility/vehicle and Acura MDX and ZDX CUVs.
     
  • Canadian light-vehicle sales hit a near record through the year’s first 10 months, but production is forecast to remain flat for the next six years. October deliveries top out at 135,001 units, the second-best total in the market’s history. Analysts now expect sales to pass 1.7 million by the end of the year. The benchmark was set in 2002.