Ford hires 400 engineers, mostly in Canada, as cars go high tech

A Ford logo is seen on a wall of the Oakville Assembly Plant as workers with UNIFOR attended a ratification vote nearby, in Oakville, Ontario, Canada November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it was hiring 400 engineers, mostly in Canada, to work on connectivity software and hardware, part of a wider push to meet demand for more connected cars.

The 300 engineers in Canada and 100 in the United States will double the current size of the Detroit automaker's mobile connectivity engineering team. The company said it also plans to establish a new research and engineering center in Ottawa, Canada.

Connectivity is a key investment area for the auto industry as in-car technology catches up to that of smartphones. As more modems are built directly into cars, vehicles are able to access a richer array of digital services. Ford plans to equip 20 million cars with built-in modems in the next five years.

The new hires, many of whom are coming from BlackBerry Ltd's shuttered handset business, will work on infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, handset integration, security, driver assist features and autonomous vehicles, Ford said.

The move by the Detroit carmaker underscores how many new jobs in the auto sector are for white-collar technology jobs related to connectivity, mobility or autonomous vehicles, versus traditional factory jobs.

Ford said on Tuesday it was investing $200 million for an advanced data center in Michigan to support advances in vehicle connectivity and future developments in autonomous vehicles.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)