Unifor Official: Expect an All-Wheel Drive Chrysler Pacifica

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

More voices are piping up, alerting minivan-loving North Americans to a future offering from Fiat Chrysler. With the segment shrinking in the face of overwhelming competition from spacious, pleasant-riding crossovers, the possibility of an all-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica is big news, and one Canadian union official claims it’s on the way.

In the minivan market, it looks like Toyota’s Sienna won’t stand alone as the only AWD offering for long.

According to Automotive News, Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, FCA claims will begin retooling its Windsor, Ontario assembly plant this summer to add the AWD version to the minivan mix. This move, Cassidy said, could lengthen the plant’s planned July shutdown for an additional three weeks.

FCA hasn’t confirmed the AWD Pacifica or the extended downtime, which would push Windsor’s downtime to five weeks.

Earlier this month, another report, drawing on a number of sources, claimed FCA indeed plans to offer a more capable Pacifica, after passing on the idea at the time of the model’s launch. In that piece, another Unifor official said FCA was exploring the possibility of an AWD Pacifica. Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions, said his sources pointed to a second-quarter 2020 launch of the grippier minivan, adding that the move would bring “relevance” to the model.

Certainly, adding AWD would cause more than a few Pacifica fence-sitters to switch their outlook from “maybe” to “buy” — especially those living in inclimate regions of the continent. Toyota Canada claims 58 percent of the Siennas it sold last year were AWD models.

Windsor Assembly saw a number of shutdowns this past winter. A two-week January idle period sought to pare down inventories of the Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, while a parts shortage in February saw the plant go dark for a week. Over the first two months of 2019, Pacifica sales fell 24 percent in the United States, with the Grand Caravan falling 27 percent. Last year, Pacifica sales rose 21 percent over the previous year’s tally, with Pacifica sales staying static.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Mar 25, 2019

    As a kid growing up in the country my first two cars were station wagons. Studded snow tires were mandatory in order to reliably get down to the highway - even down the driveway, sometimes. My next car was a Ford Tempo. It had the hilarious 5-speed and the crap 4-holer. Crucially, with 98% of its weight on the front suspension, it also had front-wheel drive. I quickly secured a set of chains for the front tires and, thusly-equipped, that thing would go places in the snow that would make an M1A1 Abrams take pause. Do I want that scene in my life again? Negative. AWD/4WD being common is an excellent thing. My only complaint now is that, while pricing out a new F-150 on the online, 4X4 added something like CDN$4000 to the cost. I'll keep buying used, in that case. I can fix it.

  • Kosmo Kosmo on Mar 26, 2019

    Maybe this will give Toyota a kick in the pants. There isn't much difference between my 2011 AWD Sienna and the 2019 version.

    • See 2 previous
    • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Mar 26, 2019

      @SpinnyD I call BS. Toyota will let it ride like Dodge has let the Grand Caravan ride. Minivans reached peak whatever a few years ago; as long as it's cheap to manufacture while meeting federal regulations, why change anything.

  • Calrson Fan I'll say it again, terrible business model doomed to fail. If your gonna build an EV PU the only market that makes sense to go after is fleets. How many other BEV companies are making money pushing only truck type vehicles?
  • Kcflyer Well it's a better waste of my money than the 1.5 billion sleepy joe's handlers gave away this week to pay for gender studies tuition.
  • Dukeisduke SK Siltron - they make blank wafers, so this isn't really a semiconductor factory (wafer fab). Siltron just polishes wafers sliced from silicon carbide ingots. Sometimes these plants are located close to fabs, sometimes they're halfway around the world from the fabs.Wafer fabs take those wafers and run processes on them (photolithography, etch, deposition, etc.) to produce finished wafers. Those finished wafers go to an assembly/test (A/T) site, where they go through probe and other testing, they're cut up into individual chips and inserted into packages with lead frames. After testing on the finished chips, then they're ready to sell.
  • Argistat If China invades Taiwan (becoming even more likely thanks to DT's isolationist rants) , then the US is completely screwed. If someone tried to list all the manufactured items and manufacturing equipment that contain semiconductor chips, the list would be so long you'd never complete it. Finally a real effort to help bring this into the US.
  • SCE to AUX What a boondoggle.I'd rather have 40 sandwich shops opened to hire those 200 workers, and it wouldn't cost $300 million. They could include chips with every meal."The company is targeting 4.2 GWh worth of lithium-ion battery packs annually by 2026."For reference, Tesla's Gigafactory One has been at over 37 GWh annually for years, not counting its energy modules (another 14 GWh).https://www.tesla.com/blog/continuing-our-investment-nevada