Survival Of Canadian Auto Industry Hinging On FCA Brampton Reinvestment

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

The fate of Canada’s auto industry is linked to whether or not the nation’s leaders can convince FCA to reinvest into its Brampton, Ontario facility.

The Brampton Assembly plant is home to three of FCA’s biggest draws, the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger. Yet, the high rate of production and quality found there clashes against the oldest paint shop the automaker has in North America, an aging line of assembly robots, and the trio themselves looking for a major makeover, Automotive News reports.

There’s also the fact FCA is already investing $2 billion into the Windsor Assembly facility in Windsor, Ontario, where a new generation of minivans are expected to begin production in 2016. The Brampton facility needs $1 billion to modernize, something CEO Sergio Marchionne may be wary of doing.

According to the Windsor Star, Marchionne approached the Canadian and Ontario governments last year with a request for a financial incentive package totalling $700 million to augment the $3.6 billion he planned to put into Windsor and Brampton. He explained his reasoning before reporters during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show:

This commitment that we’re making is a multibillion dollar commitment. We have to resolve the issue about the competitiveness of this investment in Windsor. So, I have to make sure the environment and the conditions that support the investment are adequate to ensure a proper return on our capital. That means labour costs, that means everything.

Months later, Marchionne backed down from moving forward with the proposal, choosing to invest in Windsor on his own while Brampton remains left out in the cold.

Unfortunately for those holding onto hope Brampton will remain, the business case may not be there to continue. Despite exchange rates between Canada and the United States providing a level playing field regarding unionized labor costs for now, nonunion factories in the Southeastern U.S. and Mexico offer both competitive incentive packages and labor-cost advantages.

Finally, Marchionne’s preference toward running factories flat-out through three shifts may prompt a reallocation of production if another model couldn’t be added to Brampton’s schedule. Thus, FCA could send the three full-sizers to either Toluca or Saltillo, Mexico, with the latter more likely than the former as a result of supplying engines like the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 6.4-liter HEMI V8 to Brampton.

The only issues with either location amount to retooling Toluca and sending Fiat 500 production elsewhere — the Dodge Journey will move to Windsor to join the new-gen minivans next year — or adding a new line to assemble the cars in Saltillo.

[Photo credit: Chrysler]

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Veee8 Veee8 on Jun 16, 2015

    And the Libs are doing a fine job with the Ontario Teachers right now...I wouldn't bank on cash flowing until the cheque is written.

  • Seanx37 Seanx37 on Jun 16, 2015

    Does FCA HAVE a billion to invest in upgrades? Wouldn't that money be better spent on a new large platform from this century? A V8 that doesn't wear so much? Some better small car to replace the poor Dart?

  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo V-6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.
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