Survival Of Canadian Auto Industry Hinging On FCA Brampton Reinvestment

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
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]

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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?

  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
  • Jeff S Got to give credit to Chrysler for putting the 300 as a rear wheel drive back on the market. This will be a future classic.