By on September 29, 2014

1024px-2011_Chrysler_Town_&_Country_--_03-24-2011

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.

According to the Windsor Star, Chrysler is investigating how to run the plant flat out so that there is enough minivan inventory to tide over dealers and consumers until the introduction of the new vehicle.

The shutdown is expected to bring major upgrades to the plant, which is alreading building 1,400 vans a day on three shifts. Although the nature of the upgrades has not been disclosed, it will likely be able to build more than just the minivan, since the new van will ride on a flexible architecture shared with other FCA products. However, no other products have been allocated to the plant, and Unifor, the labor union representing the plant’s workers, is reported to be hard at work to secure a future crossover for Windsor.

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85 Comments on “Chrysler Shutting Windsor Plant For 12 Weeks To Re-Tool For “Stunning” Minivan...”


  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Stunning, eh? Is that even possible in a minivan, without a trickle charge being fed to the seat controls?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Yes indeed. After a couple of ankle biters, you’ll understand. Ease of ingress/egress, cleanability, visibility, reliability, sight lines…just to name a few.

    • 0 avatar
      Sgt Beavis

      The new Kia Sedona is actually pretty damn nice. Stunning is probably a good word to use when you consider the sea of blandness of the minivan world.

    • 0 avatar
      PentastarPride

      I have a sinking feeling that this new minivan isn’t going to be so stunning, if it’s anything like the new 2015 200. It won’t resemble a Chrysler and will end up looking like a Toyota or a Kia.

      It took me a while to digest the look of the current styling of the minivans, and I felt the same way about the Ram when it came out in 09-10. It’s not so bad, even though it’s reverted back to the boxy look after the 10+ year run of the cab-forward focused NS/RS platform.

      We’ll have to see.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Since these workers are union, and because the shut down is voluntary, are they on paid leave until it re-opens?

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @CoreyDL….Paid leave?? Workers on a temporary lay off will receive Unemployment benefits from the Federal Government. Workers also receive Suplementry Unemployment Benefits {SUB} from the SUB fund. Subject to the financial position of the SUB fund. If the SUB fund is healthy the workers end up with about 85 percent of their “take home” pay. The 85 percent amount is then taxed.

      At the end of the taxation year if a workers total income passes the treshhold {about $65000} the feds claw back up to 30 percent.

      So when you do all the math, the worker is down to about 65 percent of his/her regular pay.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Well the income taxation is graded. But I get your point. I wasn’t sure if it counted as a lay-off or not.

        I think the company should have to pay those full benefits – since they chose the stoppage to re-tool and do something new. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to support time lost because of Chrysler product changes.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Each worker pays into Employment Insurance individually from each paycheck. In theory, they’re merely drawing from that which they paid into themselves rather than other taxpayers directly footing the bill.

          Since most of these people have worked more or less continuously in the past, they’ve likely paid in far more than they’ll draw out, unlike people in some parts of the country which draw on it seasonally.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s a good point! However, I still think Chrysler should foot the full bill, and leave that money in there for more real/unexpected occurrences.

          • 0 avatar
            Rick T.

            They are not really losing their jobs – anybody think they are actively looking for and accepting alternative full-time employment? – so it’s pretty much a sham for when they do this for US unemployment purposes. Many state trust funds have had to borrow heavily from the Federal Government and had negative positions for many years. There is no money for those who actually have lost their jobs.

          • 0 avatar

            Uh, people saying “The Government” and “the taxpayers” and “this part of the country” DO know we’re talking about CANADA here, and not the U.S., right?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It applies to the US, I’m not going to assert that the Canadian system is similar – need one of them people to comment!

            But Windsor and Hamtracks both have union! Now I wonder if the union crosses borders as well.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Great news with one message for Sergio. Don’t starve Dodge of product. The Caravan is an American Institution going back three decades.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, the plant is being shut down for innovations. Seems Sergio understand what sells. Now selling it as a Chrysler Caravan, who’d care? Dodge still seems to be living on borrowed time. No real need for it. And maybe you see it differently, but when we see a Chrysler fan, he usually calls himself a Mopar guy, not Dodge aficionado. Sorry, and I respect your viewpoint, but still seems there is little reason for Dodge to go on.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        A minivan should be affordable family transport right? Chrysler should be classier than “basic transport” right?

        Ergo you either will have very expensive minivans OR cheapened Chrysler branded minivans to meet the price point of those who just want a basic minivan. Neither is a good prospect for the overall health of the company.

        Either the Chrysler brand is Buick or its Chevrolet, but it can’t be both successfully.

        • 0 avatar

          That I agree, totally. I think eventually Chrysler will give up pretenses of competing with Volvo and Buick and Alfa Romeo and Jeep might take up that role, while Chrysler stretches down. I guess it now depends on what brand they think transpires better globally, Chrysler or Dodge, because at least initially, when Fiat bought Chrysler, the idea was to keep one American car brand so that means either one or the other. But that is still far off. For FCA, only 2015-16 will show the direction they are going.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I agree that there is no need for Dodge in the FCA portfolio. Rumours of its demise have been floating around for several years now. I don’t know anyone who sees Chrysler as a premium brand. (anyone under 55 that is).

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            When I lived in Europe, all the offically-imported Mopar products were branded as Chrysler, save the Ram pickups (which of course have their own brand now, along with the Viper). Globally, I think Chrysler is the name to keep, and for the US market Dodge should be limited to Chargers and Challengers due to their legacy under that marque.

        • 0 avatar

          I would agree with the brand value that Dodge Caravan has. (My late mother’s last car was a ’97, which I considered a very nicely styled minivan. The only one I’ve ever liked better was the VW Microbus.)

          But I think the Chrysler bland… uh, brand, has lost its class.

          • 0 avatar

            Would your mother balk a buying a Chrysler Caravan and not a Dodge Caravan (same price and all that). Don’t really think so, so that’s the problem for Dodge. On the other hand I think most wouldn’t mind either a Dodge Town and Country. That to me shows one of them has no real raison d’être.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The two brands are now walking down two separate paths. It might not be obvious at this very moment, but if you look at the Chrysler Group’s latest 5 year plan, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Distinctly less overlap and a vastly expanded mainstream Chrysler brand.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Dodge is morphing into a youthful (although not strictly youth) performance brand. After an unfortunate few minutes spent flirting with the near-luxury space, Chrysler is being established as the mainstream brand.

            In effect, Chrysler is the catchall, Dodge is becoming a sort of Pontiac. Dodge isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; Marchionne loves niches, and he wants that niche.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “In effect, Chrysler is the catchall, Dodge is becoming a sort of Pontiac. Dodge isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; Marchionne loves niches, and he wants that niche.”

            That’s what I was thinking, dodge has a lot of potential and much more products that it can offer than Chrysler. I however don’t see the point in leaving Chrysler as a mainstream, it makes more sense as a Buick. Flirting with luxury but priced closer to mainstream. Dodge has way too much brand power to be folded, tbh it would be nice to see Ram reitroduced into the Dodge portfolio, as I know few people that don’t automatically add the “Dodge” prefix when referring to the Ram trucks.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    What next?

    Carhartt goes swanky?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Minivans can be stunning? Now I’ve heard it all.

    I do hope stunning isn’t a code word for “screwed up”.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      I think it’s code for “more CUVish”. That’s what Kia did to the new Sedona.

      • 0 avatar

        COuld well be, though that’d be sad. On the other hand first sketches and pics of the new Renault Espace are making the rounds. As Chrysler is now European, maybe some of thos touches could be on the way. They would modernize the van greatly while not making it look SUV-ish.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, strike what I said above. Just saw some of the press releases and pics of the new Espace. Renault is calling it a crossover (though it is not), it has a more pronounced hood than ever. Though the front still looks like a car (nice one, though too much chrome), as it does too the first half of it from the side, the back part can be mistaken for something CUV-y. The hatch area is very truncated and the back side window-metal interplay and hatch are look like a Honda CR-V. Very “me too” and I had read that the window not following the hatch cut line, but angling away from it (top to bottom) was on the way out.It is taller with more ground clearance and apparently no sliding doors. Oh well shucks!

          Hope FCA has better sense, but the reality seems marketing trumps all and if they are to follow the French lead, could be the new minivans will be labelled crossovers, like the Journey was, though why it’s a crossover and not a minivan is beyond me.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Uh huh. Stunning means CUVish.

        By that metric, the last-gasp GM U-Bodies are “stunning”

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      So it’s going to be like the GM Lambdas with sliding doors?

    • 0 avatar

      Hopefully. With the exception of the Dart, nothing Fiat has done to Chrysler has been especially screwed up (and partly as has been showed here time and again, the manual and 1.4 for the Dart were for Fiat takeover issues and not Fiat not knowing the market), so I really wonder why you think they are going to screw up anything. Seems to me the takeover seems very successful up to know and FCA is an a good position regarding the future.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I think 28 is referring to the “stunning” comment. What are the trade offs going to be for a “stunning” minivan? I would think that Chrysler would stick to their minivan formula that has been so successful. I can give you examples of FCA products that I found to be overhyped and underdelived: the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee. I find both to be half a size smaller than the competition and compromised for styling’s sake.

        People seem to like both of them though.

        • 0 avatar

          Could be bball. But now, Chrysler is looking out as FCA is trying to internationalize it. In this vein, the Chrysler minivans were quite quaint and look too blocky and massive for real international success. As the American market has shown a willingness to buy international design, American Chrysler products will become more dynamic in design.

          The Cherokee, though yeah has trunk issues (small), is a hit in the US an will surely expand Jeep’s presence in Europe and elsewhere (as will the Renegade, cheaper). The Chrysler vans sell well, but nothing like before. Maybe some new, high quality, international design will improve sales. As this seems to be a real new car, the moment to take that risk seems to be now.

          Like you guys, I hope it still looks like a minivan though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Globalization cuts both ways, what is popular in Europe, South America, and Asia is not necessarily popular or needed in North American markets and vice-versa. Every automaker needs to take heed of this, GM’s already stupid mistakes of cutting out rear seat room (yet extending it in China) are both the result of narrow minded “global” thinking. The minivan formula and current platform were inherited from Daimler-Chrysler, this is the first major attempt at fiddling with the pre-Fiat product. If they go too far off the reservation with the product they cede a substantial pieces of the minivan market which they are already losing a chunk of by dropping the Dodge version (FCA controls over 50% of the minivan market). This product will be a litmus test to say the least, the current batch of Fiat specific product has not been lighting up the charts (Dart, 500, 500L, Cherokee to an extent). The five main products in terms of popularity and sales are at FCA are Ram, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Grand Caravan/T&C, and the LX platform. Spook the herd by screwing one of them up and you could potentially feel it in other product lines.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_S_platform

          • 0 avatar

            Concede all your points. The Caravan is probably not going away, or if it is the Chrylser van will have a version covering that one’s previous position. I don’t know hat they have planned, but they need to move on, minivans included. They still have a commanding position in that market, that is slowly being chipped away. Keep the current platform and in 10 years from 50 they go to 30%, much like all American makers did as they didn’t move on fast enough and lost market little by little. A 50% market share is untenable in any given market segment when that segment is competitive. I’d expect the new vans to be more refined, maybe smaller, more efficient and probably will cost more.

            As to the Cherokee disagree. In a segment once had the Cherokee Sport domineering, went to Liberty and lost it. Now it’s gaining and it’s probably not done gaining. Doing well and holding up, should sell more next year.

            As to the mainstays, yeah, but the touches Fiat has done here and there, internal and external, improved processes at the factory and every thing else Fiat has done are not seen but are felt. Drive a current Journey. Feel the improved suspension? See the greater ease of working on it? Aall Fiat touches.

            It’s going 28, going well. Fiat products are a hit. Who would have thought they could beat mini, yet they did. The 500L was and always has been a stretch for the American market. The 500X already being seen on commercials on tv is a much better fit.

            Not everything is new cars, new platforms. A lot of cleaning house was needed. More than they anticipated. All resources are there (what there is). Brazil and Europe are feeling the brunt of this. But it is changing. For better I hope. Chrysler in new phase. Like Jeep, the old one is gone. You will have better cars for it.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    I’m sure it will be a nice van….But it will take at least 3 more years to work out all the bugs of building this new model
    That typical of a Chrysler product—–never buy the first few years of a new model :=(

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Game-changing. Heh.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      That’s gotta be the worst adjective in the history of adjectives, because there is absolutely no way anything can live up to it. What is there to change about the minivan game? You got a big FWD unibody platform, two sliding doors and a lot of room for children, cargo, etc. The last time someone tried to change the minivan with AWD and “sporty” styling, we ended up with the fullsize CUV. No thank you. At least a midsize or compact CUV has some SUV DNA.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I’m just having fun with Derek. But seriously, as a minivan fan, I have to agree with you.

        Today’s crop of minivans are pretty well-honed. Chrysler has much to lose by over-promising on this product.

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          Well I have to say that if anyone can create a mini van that size, thats under 3000lbs that would a world changer..lol..
          Oh but seriously I am waiting for a hybrid mini-van. Done well/correctly, meaning not overpriced, over weight or under performing that was be a game changer indeed. I dont own a van but I probably should.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            What is your weight goal for a hybrid minivan? If Ford made a Transit Connect Wagon Hybrid, it would tip the scales at around 4000 lbs.

            What you need is a Ford B-Max. I think the gas Grand C-Max is too heavy for you.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          What do they have to lose? If it plants doubt in any buyers mind that buying the current product from their competitor is a bad idea, then it can be a very effective advantage. If, on the other hand, “stunning” merely refers to styling or better folding seats, then what is lost? You’re still in the game because a term like “stunning” is highly subjective.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I don’t particularly care for minivans, but if they carry over the interior from the new 200, it will be awfully tempting…

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Stunning”????????????

    what would be stunning is for FCA to build a product that isn’t at the bottom of their class in durability/reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I think Chrysler has been ‘stunned’ by the refinements and quality of the latest Odyssey and Sienna, not to mention their retained value at trading time.

      I was blown away by what the old Odyssey and old Sienna were still worth when my family members traded them for new rides. Unbelievable! And people stand in line to buy them, even with a bunch of miles on them.

      Chrysler easily outsells the Odyssey and Sienna but that doesn’t make the Chrysler minivans better — it means that the buyers could not afford to pay the higher prices of the Odyssey and Sienna and had to settle for third best.

      Some critics have hailed the new Sedona as being infinitely better than the current T&C and Grand Caravan. It wouldn’t surprise me.

      It also wouldn’t surprise me to see the best of the Odyssey and Sienna incorporated in the new T&C, with lots of electronics, independent suspension, a HO Pentastar V6 and a new incarnation of the 9-speed automatic.

      I don’t believe Chrysler would be stupid enough to put a CVT in them. That wouldn’t stun people. It would numb them.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @highdesertcat – agreed. My wife and I purchased a Grand Caravan in 2002. We needed a vehicle to pack 2 babies in car seats and a big dog. We got a good deal but in the long run it was a bad purchase. We sold it 7 years later and all we could get was 1,300 dollars. I had a 15 year old F250 that was rusting out, the motor was dying and it had spent most of its life in the back country. I got 1,300 dollars for it.
        In 5 years our Sienna is on its 2nd set of brakes (changes at 45K miles) and had a strut bushing changed on warranty. That is it. I could fill a page with the repairs that GC needed in the same time frame.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I actually took the time this weekend to browse the local CarMax and test drove every minivan available except the Mazda. I just wanted to see how they staked up personally. First I like the way the Dodge/Chrysler twin handled and steered. Only Honda came close and they were not even in the same ballpark. However I hated the second row. Felt like my knees were way to high up.

    Next I preferred the interior of the Quest. Trim for trim it has the best interior appointments. Also hated the second and third rows of this as well , not enough knee room on either row. It is also my fav exterior styling. Interior space was wanting overall though.

    Next The Honda had the best second row tied with the Toyota and the best 3 row overall. It had several places to put stuff as well. The Quest lacked in this area.

    The Toyota was a decent vehicle but did not give me a reason to buy it other than reliability.

    If I could I would take the Stow and Go along with the ride and handling of the Chrysler/Dodge twins. The seats and interior space of the Honda. The interior and exterior styling of the Quest along with the reliability of the Toyota. Stir it well and pour over a gas/hybrid V6 that used advanced materials to keep the weight under 3100lbs.

    PIPE DREAM

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      “If I could I would take the Stow and Go along with the ride and handling of the Chrysler/Dodge twins. The seats and interior space of the Honda. The interior and exterior styling of the Quest along with the reliability of the Toyota. Stir it well and pour over a gas/hybrid V6 that used advanced materials to keep the weight under 3100lbs.”

      That’ll be $74,995

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You can’t have both Stow ‘N’ Go and comfortable seats in the same row. That’s why no one else has done folding second-row seats.

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        I prefer take-em-out-n-go anyway. When I’m using the minivan to haul crap, I like not having that extra two hundred pounds worth of 4 unused seats dragging me down.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I dunno, we rented two Caravans on a family road trip to Yellowstone so we could pack all the winter gear in the “smuggling compartments”. The seats were comfortable enough that I didn’t complain (And I’m the complainer when it comes to seats).

        Half the roads into the park were closed up in a May snowstorm and the other half were described as “marginal”. The park rangers asked us where we were from, and we said, “Minnesota.” He smirked and told us to go right through; we wouldn’t have any problems.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The first gen Stow N Go seats were punishment. Flat, hard and uncomfortable. The latest versions don’t lose much if anything to non-folting versions when it comes to comfort. This is an area of focus, expect the next version to be improved as well.

  • avatar
    CrapBox

    Stunning? Has Chrysler hired Chris Bangle?

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    If this new van does not have an optional 4wd system with electric motors running the rear wheels I’d consider it an abject failure.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Electric motors running the rear wheels? Put down that Popular Mechanics now! If you want a FCA 4WD system in a minivan, all you’ll get is the Quadra-Drive II system in the Grand Cherokee, and that should be good enough.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Nobody yet has launched a real performance minivan…

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Another vehicle based on the Alfa Giuletta platform? this reminds me of the Iacocca days with the K-Car everything.

  • avatar
    lonborghini

    Stunning? Not likely. Mini? Compared to what? These behemoths are in no way mini.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Here’s what they’re not telling you. FCA got all rights to use all of Chrysler’s branding. The reason the new van is not coming out as a Dodge is because the low-trim model will be known as…

    Wait for it…

    The Plymouth Voyager!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    It would be a mistake to underestimate Chrysler’s skill at being at the forefront of minivan development. Aside from originating the whole market, they were also the first with a driver’s side sliding door. They only started losing it when Honda beat them to market with the magic folding third row seat. Chrysler thought the powered hatch would be a bigger deal, instead, but it didn’t pan out that way. Stow & Go seating isn’t particularly bad (although the seats themselves aren’t comfortable and are suited more for kids and/or short trips). The last effort was the ill-fated ‘Swivel & Go’ seats which were just too uncomfortable for anyone but small children. Worse, I’m not sure they were even removable. I would guess they lost a ton on development costs for that one.

    So, yeah, it’s possible that Chrysler could come up with something to revitalize the minivan market. Whether it’s actually ‘stunning’, well, that remains to be seen.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @rudiger – VW 1st brought the minivan to North America. I always wondered why Chrysler got credit for inventing it.

      I can’t see anyone revitalizing the minivan market. Everyone I know with one has switched over to CUV’s or is planning to get a CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        “VW 1st brought the minivan to North America. I always wondered why Chrysler got credit for inventing it.”

        Sales of the VW Type 2 were a tiny fraction of Chrysler’s minivan. Obviously, you’ve never driven/compared an early VW Type 2 with any Chrysler minivan.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @rudiger – my neighbour of 21 years has owned a VW camper van for that entire time. It runs great. I can’t say the same for the GC we owned.

          If sheer volume is the deciding factor for who created something first then MacDonald’s needs an award too.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    If you google “2015 Chrysler Town & Country” there are pictures of it, as far as minivans go I would say it’s pretty close to stunning

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      If I saw what you’re referring to, the extravagantly melty, 3-pillar blobs, and if they are more than just another excrescence of concept vehicles, then it’s time to break the nembutal out of the freezer.

    • 0 avatar
      CB1000R

      Looks like the concept. I like it, it’s pretty unique looking in the segment, but I could never afford one. I suspect these will start at $35000+ and leather package will start at $40000 or something ridiculous. Although, I bought my current driver 2001 LXi for $28000, and I am too lazy to adjust for inflation.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    The Dodge Caravan is quite a comfortable utility vehicle that handles well and goes pretty good with nearly 300 Hp on tap. I have spent some time in a 2014 and quite like it.

    As for the new ‘2016’ Chrysler ‘Town & Country’ mini-van and no Dodge sibling, I say good luck with that. I see a lot of the Dodges, but rarely see the Chrysler.

    As for Town & Country’s, I will take this ‘300’ based one.

    http://oppositelock.jalopnik.com/2015-chrysler-town-country-1510503526

  • avatar
    wmba

    Surely, all this has been discussed months, even years ago on allpar.com, right down to new Chrysler patents on sliding doors and a revamped stow ‘n go seat.

  • avatar
    jc130

    I might be the only person in North America who absolutely loved the T&C design concept from a few years ago, and I hope it looks just like it. It won’t, because the design was beyond polarizing, but a man can hope, even though my minivan days are over. Except I still kinda want a commercialish Safari/Astro for Home Depot runs.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    So they’re going to turn the minivan into the full size SUV the Chrysler line lacks. They dominate the minivan market, but it’s shrinking, while the SUV market is growing, and commands higher prices. If that’s the plan, they may find that the higher prices for the SUV won’t cover the loss of sales to traditional minivan buyers.

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