Chrysler and Windsor brace for plant re-tooling and shut down
The Windsor Assembly (WAP) will be shut down for 12 weeks in 2015.
That was confirmed Friday by Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne at a special event in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Earlier this year, Marchionne announced the Dodge Grand Caravan would be phased out and replaced solely by the Chrysler Towne and Country minivan to be built at WAP.
But to do that, WAP will be on shut-down for 12 weeks to re-tool, likely beginning in February.
"Which will cause us big apocalyptic reactions, because obviously we're out of production for three months. So we're going through a very detailed study right now to make sure we can run the plant flat out until then, and then take her down and bring her back up," says Marchionne.
But the long-term future of WAP is still unknown. Experts say more product is needed to keep Windsor's largest private employer at full capacity.
"We can no longer depend on the minivan to keep three shifts of operation. We need an additional product. To date there has been no hint of an additional product." says auto industry expert Tony Faria.
In March, Chrysler notified government officials it was no longer seeking $700 million in funding to upgrade its Ontario plants because the projects were being used as a 'political football.'
"Chrysler left the discussion with the province and feds, so we don't know if there are some more deep seeded troubles between Chrysler and the government," says Faria.
Experts speculated once the election was over, investment talks might resume, but Marchionne says that ship has sailed.
"The time has come and passed for that opportunity. It was important at the time. I think we've made peace with that issue regardless of the electoral outcome in Ontario," says Marchionne.
"We don't want Chrysler not at the table with the government. They are more than willing to step in and provide support for Chrysler investments in Ontario," says Faria.