Survival Of Canadian Auto Industry Hinging On FCA Brampton Reinvestment
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]
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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