For two brands steeped in Americana, Chrysler and Dodge sure seem to love Canada. Two Ontario plants continue cranking out Grand Caravans, Challengers, Chargers, 300s, and Pacificas, even as the 9,600-strong workforce in Windsor and Brampton grow leery of the future.
It’s not just the complete lack of interest Fiat Chrysler displayed in those particular brands during last month’s five-year plan unveiling; it’s also the threat of import tariffs on foreign-made vehicles that could very well sink across-the-border manufacturing.
Nah, it’s all good, says Jerry Diaz, president of the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in the Great White North.
Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting.
The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements in Cambridge, which produces the soon-to-be-gone Toyota Corolla and Lexus RX vehicles. Toyota has said it will move the Corolla to Mexico, but hasn’t announced what would replace it at the Cambridge plant.
The Canadian government tipped in $34 million in 2013 for improvements to the Cambridge plant to produce the RX 450h.
Two weeks ago, residents of the Windsor, Ontario region learned that Ford would not be bringing a new engine program to the two Ford assembly plants in the area. Although the small engine program was a long-shot from the start ( it had apparently been destined for Mexico, but union officials tried to “steal it away”), news reports and enthusiastic publicity campaigns from union head Jerry Dias had given the impression that the new engine deal was all but sewn up. For residents of the auto-dependent city, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent (compared to 6.5 percent nationally), the decision was a blow to their collective morale.
For months, news of new investment at Ford’s two engine plants in Windsor, Ontario has been making the rounds. The supposed story was that Windsor would get a new family of small, fuel-efficient engines, and possibly even hybrid powertrains. The (wishful) thinking was that the profitable assembly of these powertrains might lead to small car production in Canada.
While celebrating the successful turnaround for Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Sterling Heights, Mich. plant, CEO Sergio Marchionne proclaimed the issue of upgrades made to the Windsor, Ont. plant with help from Canadian federal and provincial governments one no longer worth discussing.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne took to The Globe and Mail‘s editorial pages to make his case for government investment in Chrysler’s assembly plants in Canada. Marchionne is seeking government funds to upgrade the Brampton plant (which builds Chrysler’s rear-drive cars) and the Windsor plant (which builds minivans, and would be upgraded as a flexible plant) as part of a $3.6 billion investment.
Just a few short years after the Canadian and Ontario government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, a familiar scenario is playing out along Highway 401. Chrysler is reported to be negotiating with both the Ontario and Canadian federal government regarding subsidies for their Windsor assembly plant that builds the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans.
While auto makers like Ford and Toyota have received government money recently, the size and scope of the subsidies are said to be unprecedented. And according to reports, Chrysler is threatening to leave if they don’t get what they want.
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