Photographer: Britta Pedersen/Britta Pedersen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Ford Hires 400 BlackBerry Employees for Connected Cars Work

  • BlackBerry and Ford have a partnership for vehicle software
  • Carmaker gets $154 million from Canada to keep jobs in country

Ford Motor Co. agreed to hire 400 employees from BlackBerry Ltd. to help develop wireless technology at the automaker, deepening an ongoing partnership between the two companies involving in-car connectivity.

The shift doubles the number of connected-car engineers at Ford and will help the U.S. company build its own wireless products in-house, said BlackBerry spokeswoman Sarah McKinney. At the same time, it helps the Canadian tech company pare costs as it completes a shift to selling software instead of phones.

“The move enables us to focus all our resources on the new strategy,” McKinney said.

BlackBerry and Ford announced a formal partnership in October to work together on car-related technologies. The deal focuses on connected-car features, like being able to send software downloads to a vehicle remotely, but also left open the door for the two to collaborate on self-driving technology. BlackBerry’s QNX division is working to position itself as a key player in that field. None of the employees transferred to Ford came from QNX, the BlackBerry spokeswoman said.

Some of the Canadian employees involved in the move launched a class-action lawsuit against BlackBerry earlier this year, alleging the company didn’t provide them with proper severance as part of the transfer. BlackBerry said the lawsuit lacks merit and is contesting it. The employee transfer previously was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The announcement comes the same day Ford said it received $154 million from federal and provincial governments to help support 800 jobs at the company’s engine plant in Windsor, Ontario.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is campaigning to keep auto jobs in the country as U.S. President Donald Trump grumbles that too many American companies outsource manufacturing abroad. A re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is expected to begin this summer.

— With assistance by Kristine Owram

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