Two weeks ago, residents of the Windsor, Ontario region learned that Ford would not be bringing a new engine program to the two Ford assembly plants in the area. Although the small engine program was a long-shot from the start (it had apparently been destined for Mexico, but union officials tried to “steal it away”), news reports and enthusiastic publicity campaigns from union head Jerry Dias had given the impression that the new engine deal was all but sewn up. For residents of the auto-dependent city, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent (compared to 6.5 percent nationally), the decision was a blow to their collective morale.
For months, news of new investment at Ford’s two engine plants in Windsor, Ontario has been making the rounds. The supposed story was that Windsor would get a new family of small, fuel-efficient engines, and possibly even hybrid powertrains. The (wishful) thinking was that the profitable assembly of these powertrains might lead to small car production in Canada.
In preparation for a “stunning” new minivan, Chrysler will shut their Windsor, Ontario assembly plant for three months to re-tool for the all new vehicle, expected to be sold exclusively as a Chrysler Town & Country.
Chrysler will hire 60 workers at its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant, but only candidates referred by current union workers will be considered for the jobs.
Chrysler will re-tool their Windsor Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Chrysler Town & Country, effectively securing the plant’s future for years to come.
While the exact location of the next Chrysler minivan is still up in the air, some clues as to whether it will stay in Windsor, Ontario could be found in the plant’s re-tooling time.
UPDATE: Mere minutes after our prior editorial was published Chrysler announced that they will be withdrawing their request for funding from the Canadian government, and
“…confirmed its intention to begin to allocate to our Windsor, Ontario plant the development and industrialization of the next “people carrier” architecture (the so-called next minivan and derivatives)”
We are awaiting a call from Chrysler to discuss the matter. In the mean time, you can read the official announcement here.
The biggest news for North America’s auto industry was announced at Geneva, and it wasn’t a new product debut. According to Automotive News, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has decided on a location for the next assembly plant, and things aren’t looking great for the current plant in Windsor, Ontario.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne took to The Globe and Mail‘s editorial pages to make his case for government investment in Chrysler’s assembly plants in Canada. Marchionne is seeking government funds to upgrade the Brampton plant (which builds Chrysler’s rear-drive cars) and the Windsor plant (which builds minivans, and would be upgraded as a flexible plant) as part of a $3.6 billion investment.
On the heels of reports that put a $3.6 billion pricetag on Chrysler’s investment at two Canadian plants, another Canadian outlet is reporting that the money would ensure the future of the two plants for decades to come.