By on April 17, 2020

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

After being understandably cagey about its plans to resume North American production, Fiat Chrysler appears to be ready to get back to work. Well, eventually.

After other automakers cautiously penned new return dates this week, FCA did the same, telling suppliers on Wednesday that its restart will be a multi-phase operation. Sadly for those awaiting the launch of Jeep’s two largest models, March’s industry shutdown has pushed their dream vehicles further into the future.

As reported by Automotive News, the automaker’s Mexican facilities are first up to turn on the lights. There’s key product south of the Rio Grande that FCA would like to see come back online posthaste, namely Ram 1500 Classic and Heavy Duty pickups. Saltillo Truck Assembly is scheduled to return on April 27th, but not before Ram Promaster van production commences this coming Monday.

The company is barreling back in full strength, however. Marlo Vitous, FCA’s head of North America supply chain planning and global inter-regional flow, told suppliers that the production restarts will be a one-shift affair, with copious sanitation efforts in place to protect workers.

Moving north, FCA claims its U.S. facilities will begin returning to work on May 4th — a key date followed by many auto manufacturers. The estimated return date for Jeep Wrangler production in Toledo, Ohio, as well as all Detroit-area plants, is May 4th, with Jeep Cherokee production in Belvidere, Illinois tentatively slated for May 18th. The same goes for Jeep Gladiator production at FCA’s second Toledo plant.

North of the border, Canada’s Brampton, Ontario facility, home to FCA’s rear-drive sedans and coupes, carries a May 4th return date. Windsor, ON’s minivan plant is scheduled to come online on May 18th, the same day as Mexico’s Toluca plant (home to the Dodge Journey and Keep Compass).

FCA says it is trying to get supportive powertrain and stamping operations in line to support the production efforts. As of Wednesday, the timing of those facilities’ restart could not be determined.

At least two upcoming products can call themselves victims of the shutdown: the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and next-generation Grand Cherokee, both scheduled to hit dealers in 2021. Production of those models have now been pushed back three months, likely scrapping the models’ public auto show debuts. Both the new Grand Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee were expected to be seen in the flesh late this year.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

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14 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Has a Restart Plan, but It Comes Too Late to Save the Timetable of Big Jeeps...”

  • avatar

    This company has greatly improved since they were sold to the Italians. A very pleasant surprise. I think Fiat has done poorly selling their products here, but they have really done a nice job with the US products. Maybe they are better editors than they are writers.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Fiat has allowed, or demanded, Chrysler make quality product. My 2017 Jeep Renegade, bought new in 2017, made in Italy, has had zero problems. Air, cruise, appearance package, for $15,700 plus tax and title at Mancari’s in Chicago. Great deal? Same dealer is now advertising 2020 Renegades at $15,999 but with automatic, backup camera and more content. Interior is good, good Continental tires, Koni struts, four wheel independent suspension. My 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan, zero problems, $10k less than Honda or Toyota.

      • 0 avatar

        My 500X, which is closely similar to the Renegade with different sheet metal, is the best car I have had in more than 40 years of driving. The Fiat reputation for poor quality is not deserved (especially given how well people speak of the Renegade). It’s a shame they weren’t able to succeed with this product in North America.

      • 0 avatar

        PSA has better quality so you should see it improve again. Their quality is somewhere between Honda and Hyundai which could be a serious game changer for Dodge, Jeep and Ram.

  • avatar

    I wonder whose going to buy a new car. Seems that there is a glut of new cars already waiting to be sold.

  • avatar

    How long are they going to continue to build the Ram 1500 Classic? I get that it’s adding a tonne of ‘value’ sales to a brand that was already the value proposition of the big three to begin with. But it can’t go on forever can it?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t see why not, it’s costs have got to be low, as long as it’s take up remains good, it’s selling at a price point that allows it to hold the bottom end of the market. Something that wouldn’t be as easy for the new truck. It would be nice to see them get 3-4 more years out of it until costs are lower on the new truck.

  • avatar

    I really wonder about the Windsor and Brampton plants. They’re in Canada, not under US jurisdiction, and the Prime Minister keeps hinting at waiting for a vaccine, which would be months away under the best of circumstances. Those plants might be more at the mercy of Canadian government policies than can be supposed.

    • 0 avatar

      @Lorenzo – There will be a layered reopening of plants and I do believe that in Canada like the USA, the provinces like the US states will have the ultimate authority to open or stay closed. BC is talking about opening up to “60%” since they project anything over that amount will cause a caseload spike.

    • 0 avatar

      Manufacturing (including auto sector) is deemed essential in Ontario so I think the only thing holding them back is the bad press that would happen if an outbreak occurred in their plants, if they think they have things figured out to avoid that (and their inventory gets low enough) they will start production up when they want.

    • 0 avatar

      Manufacturing (including auto sector) is deemed essential in Ontario so I think the only thing holding them back is the bad press that would happen if an outbreak occurred in their plants, if they think they have things figured out to avoid that (and their inventory gets low enough) they will start production up when they want.

    • 0 avatar

      Ontario is set for a May 5th re-open which is right in line with their plans for the plants.

  • avatar

    That picture would make an excellent (1000-piece) jigsaw puzzle.

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