By on February 28, 2020

It’s not unexpected, but it still comes as a blow. The impending loss of the Dodge Grand Caravan stands to sadden lovers of the industry’s longest running, most inflation-resistant minivan, but it’s a truly bitter pill for workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant.

As reported yesterday by Canada’s Financial Post, the Grand Caravan — darling of Lee Iacocca, chariot to young soccer players for decades — will cease production at the end of May.

The Windsor, Ontario plant will shed its third shift on June 29th, leading to the layoff of 1,500 workers. Like the Grand Caravan itself, those jobs were running on borrowed time.

After years of rumors and speculation, last year’s reveal of the downmarket Chrysler Voyager signalled that the aging Grand Caravan’s demise was both near and unavoidable. FCA originally planned to axe the third shift last September, but fate (read: an uptick in sales) intervened.

“We worked to prevent this shift loss with the full understanding of the devastating affect [sic] that this would have on our membership,” Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy said in a statement. “Now we will ensure that these workers receive the support that they need in this process as we continue to fight for new product for Windsor Assembly with the goal of preserving and increasing these good paying auto manufacturing jobs.”

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan

FCA spokeswoman Lou Ann Gosselin told FP, “The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority and will offer retirement packages to eligible employees.”

The shift cut will surely factor into collective bargaining talks scheduled to kick off this summer between FCA and autoworkers’ union Unifor. Declining Canadian production volume is an ongoing trend as demands for fresh product increasingly fall on deaf ears in Detroit. Last year saw the end of vehicle production at General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario plant.

While the Windsor plant has gained a new product, it’s simply a variant of the existing Chrysler Pacifica minivan. As Tim Cain told you recently, the minivan segment is not a growth segment. Not by a long shot.

Elsewhere in Ontario, FCA’s Brampton plant stands to lose the Chrysler 300 before long as sales of the company’s ancient crop of rear-drive throwbacks slowly dwindle. With FCA’s product pipeline already notoriously unpredictable, and with the automaker poised to merge with France’s PSA Group, the near future looks rocky for FCA’s Canuck workers. Fingers are no doubt crossed in the hopes that brighter days lie ahead.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

40 Comments on “Dodge Grand Caravan Gets a Date With Death; Plant to Shed 1,500 Jobs...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    I’ll shed a tear for honest affordable transportation. Increasingly such options are being replaced with vehicles that are more expensive yet less capable.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      My feelings exactly. The minivan is (IMO) the most efficient form factor for comfortable people-moving and the Dodge GC has the value-for-money crown in the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Not to mention less durable. Say what you will about FCA, if you were willing to put up with annoyances, these things run forever.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I don’t know…Everyone I know that has had these long term one of those “annoyances” has been a new transmission.

        Still if I were to go back in time and need something for my kids to spill cheerios all over and generally ruin, this would be hard to beat at the price.

        • 0 avatar
          PentastarPride

          I’m convinced that Chrysler minivans are woefully underrated in terms of durability and longevity. Tons of NS (96-00) and RS (01-07) are still out there. If these things were having major transmission or other mechanical problems, they would have been scrapped and would have disappeared off the roads a while ago. The RTs will stick around for a long time too.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Drove my ’16 Town&Country Touring L to the airport, arrived to the rental counter in SLC with my family and was given the keys to a… ’20 Grand Caravan GT. With the same toasty heated seats and steering wheel as my van, everything familiar and falling to hand. Love these things.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    people will miss them when they’re gone

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Who will miss them? The people not buying them?

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      happened w/ many models

      the Valiant and Dart

      the Town car, Crown V and Marquis de Sade

      the Acura Legend

      the Honda Element, especially the Element

      not so much the recent Impala, it was never a good seller even if superior to prior versions, its styling was so off

      • 0 avatar
        quaquaqua

        Aside from the Crown Vic’s fleet appeal, you are not mentioning cars that have caused a ruckus when they were discontinued. We’re in the era of everything getting rebooted — if people outside of a fanboy forum actually clamor for a car being brought back, it could happen.

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        Prior generation Impala for sure though.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Cheap family transportation, a dying breed indeed.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    That’s too bad, but if the market no longer wants them no sense making them

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Expect a new low-end trim of the Chrysler Voyager in the near future. Once it shows up, I don’t see why anyone would miss the GC. The newer van has better crash safety ratings, more up-to-date safety tech, and a design that’s not over a decade old.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Drive them back to back and there’s no comparison. The RU (Pacifica/Voyager) rides and handles better, is much quieter, gets better fuel economy and is nicer inside.

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    The crash rating for the Caravan isn’t great compared to the competition. That does tend to sway buyers of a family vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      volvoguyincanada

      Exactly. I’m not sure why everyone is praising a vehicle that consistently scores so poorly in crash tests. Nostalgia, maybe.

      There are so many of these on the road, it reminds me that the majority of people actually consider these safe for transporting their families.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I had a Grand Pile-O-sh!t Caravan. Sure, it was cheep to buy but that was reflected in the quality and durability. I’m not going to mourn their loss.

    I do agree with other posters that minivans are great family vehicles. Too bad the whole “mommy-blogger I-gotta-be-cool” demographic has lead to the crash in minivan sales. Many of the people I know that fit that demographic are driving around in Wrangler Unlimited’s. They cling to that cool image by clutching to products that they don’t really need or use. Social media has turned vast swaths of people into self adsorbed narcissists. Their lives are ruled buy “likes”.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Don’t blame women for minivan sales tanking. It’s not like men ever wanted to be seen in them either.

      I also will not mourn my unreliable old Grand Caravan. Aside from room, it didn’t have much going for it at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @quaquaqua – I’m not blaming women for the demise of the minivan. My bad for putting in the word “mommy”. Both men and women find the minivan uncool. In this day and age of social media “likes”, a photo of the minivan with the tribe isn’t going to get many “likes”.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    When does the Dodge Journey meet an ignominious end? I see the 2020 model dropped the Pentastar V6 and awd leaving only the 2.4 four banger with fwd. At least the V6 and awd made it an decent value. Death by decontenting ?

  • avatar
    brettc

    I learned recently (by going to dodge.com) that the Journey and the Caravan are no longer available in the CARB states. I tried googling to see why that was, but couldn’t find anything about it. But if you go to the site it pops up immediately telling you about it.

    So whatever FCA is doing or not doing with these vehicles, they aren’t for sale in 13 states. That definitely doesn’t help move metal.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I still like the grand caravans styling more than any of the other vans on the market.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Last year I spent a week each with a Pacifica and a Journey, loaner vehicles that were new (and black). Both 3.6L equipped. The Pacifica was superior in every way, and a true joy to drive (and I own an Odyssey and have had 2 Siennas). I’ve driven GC/T&C vans just a few years older (But still new enough to have the Penta*) and the Pacifica is a very worthwhile upgrade if a van is what you seek. If price is the major factor, just buy a slightly used one.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m shocked and sad about this.

    There is no better vehicle for all-around utility than a minivan with room for a 4×8 sheet of material, which can tow and haul 7+ people around, and is low enough to put a carrier on top.

    In order, we’ve had:
    1. 96 GV
    2. 05 Odyssey
    3. 98 GC
    4. 09 Sedona

    But in terms of quality, I’d say:
    1. 09 Sedona
    2. 96 GV
    3. 98 GC
    4. 05 Odyssey

    But FCA is trying to find its way, and there is no sense hoping for a revival of the minivan market if they can make money elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Every product has its own lifecycle. A Dodge Durango V6 three-row may not seat 8 like a minivan, but it will be a pretty good replacement for one to haul stuff.

      Minivans and sedans are not selling well these days.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Don’t be too sad, the Voyager is a much better vehicle and worth the incremental price of admission.

      “A Dodge Durango V6 three-row may not seat 8 like a minivan, but it will be a pretty good replacement for one to haul stuff.”

      The interior space and versatility isn’t even in the same league.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “The interior space and versatility isn’t even in the same league.”

        Funny you should mention that. The guy across the street from me recently traded his wife’s minivan in on a new Dodge Durango (for her because that’s what she wanted now that their kids are gone and they are empty-nesters) and last week he hauled home a huge number of long 2×4 in that Durango for a project they’re working on inside their house.

        Turns out, the long 2×4’s fit better in the Durango with the passenger seat down where they had to hang out of his short-bed F150.

        Maybe the minivan would have been an even better fit, but a woman wants what she wants, and now that their kids have left home, she wants something a little more modern, current and up-to-date. IOW, no more minivans.

        On the flip side of that coin are the old retirees I see parked at various hotels and motels when we are on the road. They love their minivans for travel, rented or otherwise.

        Both my daughter and my daughter-in-law also own minivans; my daughter’s we are currently driving, and both of them will step up to an SUV or CUV when they trade later this year.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Finally! I am sooo tired of renting a mini van for vacations and getting yet another Grand Caravan. I’m looking forward to the fleet at enterprise to age out and be replaced by any other mini van which according to everyone is a step up from what dodge has been making for the past decade or two.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Rent from Alamo/National. In my recent experience the vans are usually Siennas, which are just fine.

      (It’s funny to reminisce that I rented two Grand Caravans to tote relatives around for my wedding in 2012, and then realize that today’s rental GC is almost identical to those vans except for UConnect.)

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    Sad times but I guess people get antsy about cars/platforms sticking around longer than a couple years. I personally like the refreshed RT minivans over the CUSW Pacifica/Voyager, especially the Town and Country.

    I’ve always maintained that Pacifica should have went to a CUV which, undeniably, Chrysler needs.

    It’s good that some heritage remains by way of the Voyager name.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” Pacifica should have went to a CUV”

      Yup, that would be a smooth move, especially with AWD like the Toyota Sienna AWD.

      Problem is that would be a $3K premium for Pacifica, unlike the Sienna which uses Toyota’s excellent Highlander AWD system and adds very little to the MSRP of the higher trim-levels where it is offered.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The $3K premium for the 2020 Launch Edition with AWD also includes some feature content. Chrysler hasn’t released 2021 pricing yet. We’ll see what the actual premium for the AWD system only is when they do. Toyota charges about $1400 and I don’t think Chrysler can get away with charging that much more.

  • avatar
    BoltEVJay

    Good riddance to that pile. Too bad people are losing their jobs over it.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • 2ACL: Seems like a nice car, but I’d be frustrated with the listing photos if I were in the market;...
  • SaulTigh: My dad, being elderly and internet challenged, meant to order two packages of TP during the great Covid...
  • SaulTigh: To me, the main thing it shows is just how thin the veneer of civilized society is. If all deliveries...
  • slavuta: Lou, I am truly thankful to you for sharing your experiences. But I don’t promise to practice. What...
  • sentience: They are within 10% of each other, maybe less depending on rounding. Both are aerodynamically bricks. I...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber