Large Fiat Chrysler Cars Suffer Production Setback as Supplier Goes on Strike

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

If every full-size car built by Fiat Chrysler was a Dodge Demon, the automaker’s limited supply of seats wouldn’t be as big an issue.

Well, the Demon’s dead, and all of the Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, and Dodge Challengers built at FCA’s Brampton, Ontario assembly plant need a place for five occupants to plant their asses. As of a minute after midnight on Saturday morning, those seats are no longer rolling out of supplier Lear Ajax. A production slowdown in Brampton ensues.

The 320 Lear workers voted 99 percent to strike after failing to reach a collective agreement with their employer, which they did starting April 28th. Lear is a just-in-time seating supplier for the big car plant in Brampton.

“Unifor bargained up until the deadline but unfortunately it became clear that Lear was just unwilling to make a fair offer,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a statement.

Unifor also represents autoworkers at all of the Detroit Three’s Canadian plants. The president of Unifor Local 222, which represents the Lear employees, said “members are united and we are determined to obtain an agreement that addresses the workers’ key issues.”

According to Automotive News, the loss of seats has had an immediate and obvious impact on car production. Ardis Snow, plant chair for Unifor Local 1285 at Brampton, said day shift workers could expect 4 hours of work on Monday. As for afternoon shift workers, “I expect they’ll be sent home early, as well,” he said.

Lear workers last walked off the job in 2014.

If you’re assuming last month saw sales of large FCA cars reach new depths, thus making this strike pointless in the grand scheme, you’d be wrong. (Though it will take some time for FCA to burn through its inventory if the strike grinds on.) Each of the LX platform rear-drive cars built at Brampton saw year-over-year sales gains in the U.S. in March. Challenger sales rose 31 percent last month, with year-to-date volume up 12 percent. The 300 saw its sales rise 25 percent, year over year, though its tally over the first three months of 2018 shows a definite downward trend. Sales are off Q1 2017 figures by 14 percent.

The Charger appears the least volatile of the three. March sales were up 3 percent, with year-to-date sales down 5 percent.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Garrett Garrett on May 01, 2018

    I would gladly buy a car without seats... just discount it enough for me to buy some nice Recaro seats, and let's call it a day. Seriously, there are very few car manufacturers with decent seats. There's Volvo...and then some of the other luxury manufacturers are able to put decent seats in some of their models, if you pay a bunch extra. Subaru definitely makes some horrible seats. Our Outback had seats that were less comfortable than a Hyundai Accent.

    • Compaq Deskpro Compaq Deskpro on May 01, 2018

      Worst car seat I've sat in was the front passenger seat of a 2016 Camry LE. Painful lower back, pinched nerve in the legs, weird pressure points. My base Challenger has very comfy and supportive cloth seats, and I hope they keep cranking them out.

  • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on May 02, 2018

    FCA: Dodge testing - RAM it into production.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Another Hyunkia'sis? 🙈
  • SCE to AUX "Hyundai told us that perhaps he or she is a performance enthusiast who is EV hesitant."I'm not so sure. If you're 'EV hesitant', you're not going to jump into a $66k performance car for your first EV experience, especially with its compromised range. Unless this car is purchased as a weekend toy, which perhaps Hyundai is describing.Quite the opposite, I think this car is for a 2nd-time EV buyer (like me*) who understands what they're getting into. Even the Model 3 Performance is a less overt track star.*But since I have no interest in owning a performance car, this one wouldn't be for me. A heavily-discounted standard Ioniq 5 (or 6) would be fine.Tim - When you say the car is longer and wider, is that achieved with cladding changes, or metal (like the Raptor)?
  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?
  • Analoggrotto Colorado baby!
  • Rob Woytuck Weight is also a factor for ferries which for instance in British Columbia, Canada are part of the highway system.
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