By on September 14, 2017

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeing impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?

Not really, but that doesn’t matter — the Grand Caravan has to meet updated U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.

At least the line workers at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to. 

Unifor Local 444, which consists of 4,000 unionized hourly employees at the factory, explained to Automotive News that the Windsor factory will be shut down for roughly five weeks beginning October 2nd, if everything goes according to plan. However, FCA’s labor contract allows it to move up the idle date to September 27th if it so chooses.

The reason for the downtime is due to the Grand Caravan’s nonobservance of new U.S. side airbag regulations that went into effect this month. This is the same mandate that effectively killed the Dodge Viper but, as the Grand Caravan has space for the airbags and is far too important to send into oblivion, FCA needs to retool so it can install the new safety devices as standard equipment.

Unifor says its not worried about the dwindling supply of Grand Caravans. U.S. dealers were told in June to load up on the model, because after August there was no guarantee they would receive any additional stock for at least seven months. Sales of the 2017 model will continue in Canada, but the U.S. will have to wait until production resumes with the 2018 MY minivan in December.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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35 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Minivan Production Stalled Through October...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How’s that 5 year plan coming Sergio?

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Well, they have Ram and Jeep neatly packaged for sale to Chinese, viper killed, and on their way to killing anything that doesn’t have the letters J*E*E*P on the hood or a bed in the back. They have booked a ticket back to Italy for Fiat. Looking into refundable tickets for Alfa just in case.

    Provided pickups and SUVs continue to sell at ever increasing rates, plan doesn’t look too bad. Not much room for error though.

    and why are all my comments today “awaiting moderation”? I haven’t used profanity in …days?

  • avatar
    gasser

    What got changed in the U.S. Safety regulations that the 2017s won’t meet for 2018??

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Dan–That 5 year plan is coming along just fine. We are in the process of changing all those Dodge and Chrysler badges to Fiat ones. People will be knocking down the doors for the newly rebadged Fiat Caravan. Nothing like a caravan of Fiats.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sergio is making it up as he goes along, has been for a long time.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nothing like waiting until beyond the last minute to implement a production-killing design & tooling change.

    I notice that other mfrs aren’t shutting down their production lines this month to make their vehicles comply with the new standard.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Seriously. All I can think of is they weren’t planning on making a 2018 version until recently.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I guess that would depend on if their models already have/offer side airbags, wouldn’t it?

      I believe quaquaqua has it nailed: Grand Caravan was supposed to die already, but it stubbornly keeps on selling well. Turns out people are interested in value when it comes to family trucksters.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah the Grand Caravan was supposed to die. However it appears they don’t have that much faith in the Pacifica and/or the Chrysler brand. So they extended the Caravan production and apparently they decided they can’t afford to drop it.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    This is a pretty drastic effort to make someone buy a Pacifica.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    So, Pacifica production is shutting down due to overproduction?

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Remember my prediction!
    By 2019 or 2020 their WILL be a new Dodge Grand Caravan based upon the Pacifica platform and it HAS to go by the name MONACO-only!!!
    NOT Grand Monaco, please…

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    They had to have been planning to end Grand Caravan production before this rule took effect. I don’t see any other reason for a complete shutdown like this unless they changed their minds at the last minute.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Dodge and Chrysler death watch. Not too much longer and both will join Plymouth and Desoto. Ram and Jeep will be sold to the Chinese and the rest of the company fades away.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I don’t understand anything FCA does. Ok, well, I get why the Pacifica is all new, etc. (Although, the T&C had name equity, but I digress) to differentiate it self from the Grand Caravan.

    The Grand Caravan is (I think) the best selling non-offroad vehicle (i.e. not Jeep or Ram) they have, and they keep looking for a way to kill it….this seems counter-intuitive to any business plan I have ever studied. Its almost like Sergio is offended by its existence. And now, because it was supposed to die, they HAVE to conveniently stop production. So, they are trying to kill by way of attrition of their customer base? The people who want a Caravan or Journey aren’t going to get a Pacifica or Durango…they are going to go look at a Kia Sedona or Sorento, respectively. And they might not ever come back to the brand.

    Someone please explain to me why on earth FCA hates this van so much? It’s not world class at anything, but its fills a market need very well for a lot of people.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The lost T&C most its name equity with its target market after the small frontal offset crash test video hit the mommy-blogs.

      Link:
      https://youtu.be/TZC8Ykl1esE

      It was no longer the choice for responsible well-informed families. Responsible well informed families buy Odysseys and Siennas.

      P.S. The other vans which did poorly in the tests (Nissan Quest) didn’t have a reputation to lose…

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        It’s too bad Honda and Toyota can’t get the price of their safer minivans down to that of the Grand Caravan. If they could, the Grand Caravan wouldn’t be selling in anywhere near those volume numbers.

        Yeah, it might not be as safe as other products, but for a growing family on a budget needing new, basic transportation with a warranty, the Grand Caravan is a helluva deal.

        • 0 avatar
          CarDesigner

          You can NOT beat the Mopar minivans for packaging and utility. They have consistently lead the market in design and features. It took years for them to figure out to just copy the occupant packaging, opening side doors, and a host of other innovations. None have ever figured out how to store seats, as well. Honda was given the idea by a designer that left Chrysler because he was promised a position in CA and had the rug pulled out from under him. He came up with the fold in the floor seating, but Honda only did the 3rd seat. It took Chrysler 2 iterations to stop protecting for the 1% take rate of AWD and figure out how to do NVH.
          If you you need to carry people and/or stuff, NO SUV or other minivan, is a better Swiss Army knife vehicle!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I honestly think the compromise in comfort (namely, it sucks) of the second row of stow and go is not worth the value of the seats folding in. I personally would rather just take a bench or captain’s chair out when I need to haul something really big. But I get that others will prioritize in the opposite direction.

          • 0 avatar
            jesse53

            Yep, just bought a 2008 Grand Caravan to haul music gear.. Previously had a 2002 Yukon XL, hard to load in and gas hog to boot. I’ve had at least 8 Chrysler Vans, only one tranny failure.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        I’m not so sure that failing that test is SOLELY responsible for the T&C name being retired.

        1) I think the Pacifica was already in development and the T&C as we knew it was going away already. The name change may or may not have been discussed.

        2) the other popular family vehicle, the full size pick up truck, also also had models that failed and those names weren’t retired.

        A LOT of makes and models failed that test the first time because it was a new test and a collision that I don’t think engineers thought about across the industry.

        It is bad that the vans as a category did poorly,

    • 0 avatar
      CarDesigner

      The same mentality that killed Plymouth is killing Dodge. People will move upmarket to the Pacifica (Chrysler, you know) Just like they went for the Chrysler Voyager, nee Plymouth, minivan. Mergeronni has never had a succession plan, only a dismemberment sale plan. Why else would you kill a 100 year old Dodge car or truck brand, and a name that has been appreciated for at least 50 years, in the Town & Country? Sort of like the “Merger Of Equals” fraud. Instead of actually preserving the equity of the names and brands, he starves and destroys them, to bring back names that are NOT revered in this country and are barely remembered. Saw a preview of FCA future product that looked very promising, IF the company stays together, they will do well.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      “The people who want a Caravan or Journey aren’t going to get a Pacifica or Durango…they are going to go look at a Kia Sedona or Sorento, respectively.”

      This. My parents bought two Caravans back-to-back, but this time they bought a Sedona. They got tired of the craptastic build quality.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t think Sergio cares about Chrysler or Dodge. Sergio is more interested in merging with someone. The money is being invested in Alfa Romeo and Fiat and Chrysler and Dodge are left to wither away. I don’t really think Sergio cares that much about Ram or Jeep more about what he can get out of them. I doubt FCA will last much longer. Does seem to me that as long as the Dodge Caravan is selling that FCA should run it as long as it is profitable. The Caravan is like the Crown Victoria and Ranger in that as long as there is little spent on it and it still is profitable run it till it no longer is. That actually makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Sergio doesn’t even care about Fiat, or Maserati, or Alfa. He cares only about a deal that allows the Fiat founding family to cash out and leave the auto industry. That’s why they hired him, and still trust him to pull a rabbit out of his hat. His act has gone stale and he’s running out of options, though. My suspicion is that he’s got 2 years max before he parts out the company and Agnelli-owned Alcor reaps a reduced haul from its FCA stock ownership.

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