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Ford Motor Co. is hiring more than 300 engineers for a new connected-vehicle research center in Ottawa, Ontario, the automaker said Thursday.

Ford said the center is part of a $500 million Canadian (US $376 million) investment. The company also plans to increase sustainability and fuel economy research at its Windsor and Oakville operations.

Ford will hire 100 additional hardware and software engineers in the U.S. to support the work of the Ottawa team.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday that federal and provincial governments will provide Ford with conditional grants of up to $102.4 million Canadian dollars (US $77 million) for the projects.

"Today's investments will help create and maintain almost 800 great jobs for Canadians in Windsor and across Ontario, while equipping Canadians with the skills they need to design and build the cars of the future," Trudeau said in a statement Thursday. "This is about positioning Canada as a global center for automotive innovation, creating better opportunities for Canadians, and keeping Canada's automotive manufacturing sector competitive."

Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer, said that connectivity is critical to the future of mobility.

"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," Nair said.

The new Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre in Canada will focus on infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles, Ford said. Additional facilities will be located in Waterloo and Oakville, Ontario, as well as Cary, North Carolina, and Sunrise, Florida.

Ford said it has invested a total of $1.2 billion Canadian (US $903 million) in Canada in the last six months. 

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