By on March 17, 2014

Chrysler Windsor Assembly

While celebrating the successful turnaround for Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Sterling Heights, Mich. plant, CEO Sergio Marchionne proclaimed the issue of upgrades made to the Windsor, Ont. plant with help from Canadian federal and provincial governments one no longer worth discussing.

Automotive News reports FCA pulled out of discussions with Canada over a $2 billion upgrade incentive package that would secure the long-term future of the plant after politicians referred to the request as “ransom” and “corporate welfare,” according to Marchionne:

Chrysler is not in the business of accepting handouts. And if provincial and federal authorities in Canada think that’s the way to attract foreign investment, I think they are in for a big shock.

It doesn’t matter. It’s gone. That chapter is closed. Fiat-Chrysler has moved on. The agenda, from my standpoint, is complete.

Regarding Sterling Heights, where the Chrysler 200 will go into production this week, the plant’s upgrade as “an apt symbol of how far Chrysler has come because of the courage and resilience of [its] people,” Marchionne explained. The plant was due to close in 2010, only to return to life through a $1 billion investment made in light of the success behind the restyled and renamed compact, and the capacity needed to fulfill demand.

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46 Comments on “Marchionne Closes Chapter On Canadian Minivan Plant...”


  • avatar
    wmba

    “Chrysler is not in the business of accepting handouts ..”

    Well, why ask for a $700 million one, then?

    The Ontario provincial Leader of the Opposition was the one who loudly criticized the deal. He isn’t even in power. The actual governments of Ontario and Canada made NONE of the comments Marchionne alludes to.

    So, in a snit, and to preserve his great opinion of himself, Marchionne twists the facts.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I agree. The fact that he was having a discussion with Ontario/Canada about a $2 billion incentive package demonstrates that Chrysler IS in the business of, at the very least, open to accepting corporate handouts.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      The leader of the opposition? That moron would struggle leading a two car funeral procession. The die hard right wingers, cringe every time he speaks.

      Hudak is going to lose to the most corrupt government we have ever had.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a moron. However, I do agree that’s not terribly inspiring to say the least. And I do think that there’s a grave risk that he WILL lose to what I agree is the most corrupt government we have ever had. Depressing really.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        He’s not a moron.

        He’s just a particularly opportunistic bald-faced populist and comes off as spectacularly insincere as a result.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          There are indisputable ominous signs appearing on Canada’s economic horizon, from currency issues to the foundation of its housing market.

          It’s also extremely odd timing regarding many recent departures of high level government officials (including a loss of Canada’s former main central banker to the BOE), as well as the sudden resignation of Canada’s finance minister, yesterday,

          Canada looks to be in a very similar economic and financial condition as Australia at the moment, with a shrinking manufacturing base and a very heavy reliance on commodities, mining and natural resources as an underpinning of its economy.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Chrysler wanted $700 million from the provincial and federal levels of government to continue building garbage minivans. Oh and that’s about $6 billion if adjusted for an American payout per population. Canadians already footed almost THREE times the 2009 bailout per capita than American taypayers did. So see ya Chrysler, our purse strings are now tied up tight.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Those so called “garbage” minivans are the vehicle of choice, for many families. Not everybody wants to spend 50K on a Honda Ody.

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        I would have to agree with you Mikey. I have found Chrysler’s vans to be consistently competent; not my vehicle of choice but a solid product.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @rpol35, @Mikey – not from my experience. The one we had was in the dealership for repairs at least 3 times a year. A PIA on warranty and a money drain on wheels post warranty.

          They sell because they are cheaper than the Sienna or Odyssey.

          Our Sienna has had brakes at 60,000 km whereas our Grand Caravan was close to set #2 and rotors.
          We got 1,300 dollars for the GC after 7 years. My 15 year old close to dead F250 sold for 1,300.

          I won’t touch a Chrysler/Jeep/Ram product until JDPower, Vincentric, CR etc. give them top ratings.
          I learned my lesson the hard way.

          One cannot play the “lemon” card since we had friends with the same year and model as ours. The only difference on repairs between the 2 was ours needed new lifters right before it ran out of warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskerDaVinci

      They aren’t garbage. The Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country are still some of the best mini-vans on the market. Buyers agree as well. When you combine both models, which is fair to do, they outsell the other minivans.

      Not everyone wants an SUV or crossover. Minivans are just as competent as crossovers and SUVs in an urban environment. A Caravan can hold more than many crossovers and SUVs while getting better fuel economy, Stow & Go is still one of the best pieces of engineering for easily making more cargo space. Not everyone is so obsessed with looking “cool” that they’ll buy something less practical. No, minivans aren’t exciting. But they’re still some of the most useful cars that have ever been designed. You not liking them doesn’t make them garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Minivans are just as competent as crossovers and SUVs in an urban environment.”

        You’re being generous, they are superior in every way for people hauling. SUVs might have an argument as an all in one family vehicle but lose points on people hauling specifics. CUVs have no functional argument over either.

        Minivan FTW.

        • 0 avatar
          Reicher

          Agreed. I find alot of the import vans bulky compared to the Chrysler brand. I don’t know how the redesigned one coming out in the future would be, but compared to, say honda and toyota, the Chrysler doesn’t seem to be as boat-sized like.
          Ive seen a Chrysler dealer carry seven 4 to 5 foot diameter (5 foot high) pedestal fans. My jaw had hit the ground seeing them in there plus still having space :O

  • avatar
    mkirk

    So, they going to build these in a Southern state now or Mexico?

  • avatar
    mikey

    It looks to me like Mr Marchionne, is not a guy you want to f—
    with.

    Mr Marchionne’s job is to keep Chrysler afloat, and turning a profit. There by generating more jobs, for more people.

    Politicians, of all political stripes, have only two concerns. Number one on the politicians list , is,” how much money can I stuff into my pocket” . Number two? How can I get re elected?

    Mr Marchionne has made it perfectly clear, that he has no time for such garbage.

    I like, and respect the guy. We need more like him.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    While Marchionne seems sometimes prescient, he has missed the mark on this comment. Of course, there are those who believe if they repeat it loud enough, long enough, it becomes true. He’ll be sorry when the C$ stabilizes at about 70 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      I would sleep better at night with a 70 cent dollar. Not all Canadians share my view. Just us folks that depend on an American based company,to supply our daily bread.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    So where does this leave the plant and those employed by it? I have no issues with Fiat asking for the cash , that is their job to make money, I also have no problem if the Gov says pound sand. You do not ask you do not get.

  • avatar
    mikey

    For all intents, and purposes, Chrysler was history, in 2009. Even the most optimistic amongst us had wrote them off.

    Sergio has g took on the UAW and the CAW and came out on the winning side. Sergio knows full well, that just because our stupid leaders, give him the run around, doesn’t mean that other states/goverments aren’t more than willing to accomadate him

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I’m not sure your history is correct. The unions made concessions in return for an ownership stake. Serg got a huge low interest loan from the US government at a time when banks weren’t lending.

      I think his response was to whine that it wasn’t good enough. Someone whispered in his ear “Shut the f*ck up”.

      He might be a good car man but he’s also kind of a sack of shit. Of course the sack is tailored by Armani.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’ve never been much of a Chrysler fan, but those “garbage” minivans have withstood the test of time in the market. I see lots of the 90s vintage trundling around here in Indiana with 200,000 or even 300,000 miles going strong.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Our retired neighbor and his wife just bought a pre-owned Chrysler Town and Country; I believe it’s a 2011. I remember when they got their previous Town and Country in 2005, which had close to 250,000 miles when they traded it in, and they only got rid of it just now because they wanted something newer. His brother still drives the 1992 Dodge Caravan that they had before they got the 2005 Town and Country.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      It’s my understanding that the older generations broke in specific ways, in particular the transmission, so, if you could predict and watch for it, you could just roll that into standard maintenance. You could also do things like aftermarket transmission coolers to improve the life.

      In the extreme hypothetical, if you know that your transmission will go every 100,000 miles, and it’s still running at 85,000 miles, baby it or replace it.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I don’t know if the vans themselves are garbage, but more often than not the people who drive them are.

      Picture this: A chain-smoking overweight and underdressed woman yelling at her screaming brats and throwing them into a van in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Sienna Limited appearing in your mind? Probably not.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “A chain-smoking overweight and underdressed woman”

        Ooh… is she slightly sweaty, too?

        • 0 avatar
          bigdaddyp

          “Picture this: A chain-smoking overweight and underdressed woman yelling at her screaming brats and throwing them into a van in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Sienna Limited appearing in your mind? Probably not.”

          *sniff* Mom, is that you?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Does elitism come to mind

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Yes, yes… the Chrysler minivan IS the family favorite in the blue-collar/we don’t drive “those weird foreign cars” parts of town.

        You’ll see a few professionals driving brand new or very lightly used T&C’s, but there is one difference. They won’t keep it for the 10 or 15 years that their industrial cousins residing in the poorer-performing school districts will be clinging to theirs.

        Even construction worker dad likes the van because he can throw all his tools in there and all the guys at the job site agree: “it’s got some ‘giddup”.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick

      And Chrysler aficionados raised getting more power out of the 4 cylinders that powered the early models to an art form.

  • avatar
    dcars

    Fiat doesn’t take hand outs? That’s how they got Chrysler.

  • avatar
    vcficus

    Funny thing about that Sterling Heights plant… the old one was part of “Old Chrysler” (ie, the dead one). Valued at several hundred million but you had to take the clean up costs with it.

    When Fiat decided they might need local capacity after the bankruptcy they bought it back… for $10 million! “Old Chrysler” was paid for something they were going to have to write off, and Sergio got a cheap shell of a plant with all the stuff in it too for nothing.

    As a supplier I’m still glad the bailouts happened but I don’t think for a minute they were all above board bankruptcies with parties getting equal hair cuts.

  • avatar

    So what is the verdict, are the next minivans going to be made a Windsor or not? or is the jury still out.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    @crazycarlarry – I suspect that Marchionne will play the “I’m going to close the plant” card when it comes time to negotiate a new contract with Unifor. The fact that he walked away from politicians most likely had to do with strings attached that would preserve union jobs.
    He may of walked way from 500-700K but his position is probably stronger because of it. He didn’t want to become Government Motors Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Yeah, he’ll keep Windsor going through the end of the union contract. It’s a big plant (4 million square feet) that can handle more than just the vans. After that, the Belvidere plant has 3.3 million square feet and that plant builds the Dart as well as the Jeep Compass and Patriot.

      After the Jeeps are discontinued, there will be excess capacity there. In fact, the Sterling Heights Assembly is now state of the art and due to build the new Chrysler 200. The Dart could be built there too, leaving Belvidere open for the minivans.

      In short, Sergio has options, and unless the Loony drops in value, it’s now cheaper to build in the US.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Congratulations Canada!! By joining NAFTA you didn’t get US jobs, you just joined the US in shipping all manufacturing jobs to Mexico.
    Repeat after me: “Would you like fries with that???”

    • 0 avatar

      Time to repeal NAFTA, GATT, and all the other so called free trade agreements, and go back to what made America manufacturing strong, tariffs.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Gasser, crazycarlarry – Tariffs?

        Repeat after me……………. welcome to Cuba.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        Fair wages for a day’s work isn’t a tarrif. Tarrifs are tarrifs.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @crazycarlarry
        There are a few problems with what you stated.

        1. The cost of goods in the US would increase and your standard of living will drop.

        2. What made the US strong was it’s influence over trade and finance, not manufacturing.

        3. Manufacturing will change. Manufacturing jobs will die off. Even the Chinese have 20 million less people now in manufacturing than they had in the late 90s.

        The people who think manufacturing is the ‘be all’ must realise that to have strong manufacturing your standard of living will drop.

        So, our best bet is to improve the standard of living of our competitors. This will make us more competitive.

        • 0 avatar

          @ Big Al

          “The people who think manufacturing is the ‘be all’ must realise that to have strong manufacturing your standard of living will drop.”

          I would argue the exact opposite, that manufacturing is the source of wealth creation.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @crazycarlarry
            You can argue all you want.

            Manufacturing USED to be all of those things.

            We aren’t living in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

            Most any country can manufacture consumer products, even China.

            So why try and compete with them, unless you want to reduce your standard of living?

            Tariffs only increase costs and reduce the standard of living as well.

            Manufacturing jobs will more or less become a tiny part of any economy soon. So why try and invest in the wrong areas of manufacturing? Job protection isn’t the answer.

            You have a very short term approach to sustainability. Look into the future and not dwell on the past glories.

            Living and dwelling in the past like you do is counter productive for the US.

    • 0 avatar
      OldWingGuy

      Don’t feel too bad for us. We do OK here in the West. Lots of job openings. Skilled, unskilled, doesn’t matter – we need people to work.
      NAFTA was all about a few things – opening the US market to cheap Mexican manufacturing and abundant Canadian resources. Mission accomplished.
      Eventually Keystone will get built. No rush – the oil has been locked up in the sand for millions of years. Another year or ten really won’t matter. It just gives Fort Mac a chance to get some housing built.
      Now, if we can just get Quebec to separate we out West could hang onto some of our tax dollars. And we could throw a few billion Sergio’s way. Who knows, maybe they can start building cars in Moose Jaw.

  • avatar
    RS

    Where is Chrysler going to move Minivan production?


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