Dodge Grand Caravan Gets a Date With Death; Plant to Shed 1,500 Jobs

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.”

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • PentastarPride PentastarPride on Feb 28, 2020

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Feb 28, 2020

      @highdesertcat 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.

  • BoltEVJay BoltEVJay on Feb 29, 2020

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

  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern
  • Tsarcasm No, Japan only. Life costs by Rank:#1 - House (150k+)#2 - Education (30k+)#3 - Automobile (30k+) why waste hard earned money in inferior crap => Korean, Chinese, and American cars are trash. a toyota or honda will last twice as long.
  • Tassos In the 90s we hired a former PhD student and friend of mine, who 'worked' at GM "Research" labs, to come work for us as a 'temp' lecturer and get paid extra. He had no objection from GM, came during the day (around 2 PM), two hours drive round trip, plus the 1.5 hour lecture, twice weekly. (basically he goofed off two entire afternoons out of the five) He told me they gave him a different model new car every month, everything (even gas) paid. Instead of him paying parking, I told him to give me the cars and I drove them for those 90 mins, did my shopping etc. Almost ALL sucked, except the Eldo coupe with the Northstar. That was a nice engine with plenty of power (by 90s standards). One time they gave him the accursed Caddy Catera, which was as fun driving as having sex with a fish, AND to make it worse, the driver's door handle broke and my friend told me GM had to pay an arm and a leg to fix it, needed to replace almost the whole damned door!
  • 3-On-The-Tree I only buy Toyota cars. But if the Chinese cars are cheap people will buy them. They don’t care about the above issues that were stated in this forum.
  • Tassos Ford models are like dumb Hollywood movies. The original is far better than their god damned sequels. This was true of the Mustang vs the II, AND the Capri vs its second gen, and their BEV PORKER atrocities many decades later