Beleaguered Minivan Plant Granted a Reprieve
Home to the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Pacifica, and now the lower-tier Chrysler Voyager, Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly won’t see an expected shift cut next month. Instead, thanks to an uptick in volume, company brass has decided to ride out the year.
Originally scheduled to shed a shift (and along with it, about 1,500 jobs) at the end of September, Windsor Assembly will continue with its current workforce until at least New Year’s, Driving reports.
According to Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy, who met Wednesday with FCA bigwigs, the sales picture isn’t as dire as it once appeared. “This is a good news story,” Cassidy said. “We live to fight another day.”
He added, “Sales are better. They have some numbers coming in for minivans that will allow us to maintain the third shift until at the end of the year.”
The announcement of a shift cut came in March, with FCA claiming the move aimed to align production with global demand. FCA employs about 6,100 workers at the minivan plant. In the face of the crossover explosion (some might call it an epidemic), minivans have taken a hit. Those which remain in the segment struggle for any sales headway, though most are on the decline.
While Cassidy welcomes the news, he cautioned that a new model — and not just the Voyager, a low-trim variant of the Pacifica — is needed to ensure the survival of the threatened shift. The uptick in sales covers both the Pacifica and Grand Caravan, he said, as well as fleet sales.
Thanks to FCA’s decision to move to quarterly sales reporting, we don’t know just how many Americans and Canucks sprung for a minivan last month. However, June showed U.S. Pacifica sales rising 10 percent, year over year. Grand Caravan sales were down 25 percent for the month.
In Canada, the opposite was true. Buyers of the old Dodge brought about a 14 percent uptick in the model’s sales, while Pacifica volume fell 18 percent. With the Voyager not yet on sale, it remains to be seen how the strategy of splitting a van into two models works for the brand.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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