FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Hot on the heels of Fiat Chrysler’s announcement of a shift cut at its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant, officials from Canadian autoworkers’ union Unifor say the automaker has $355 million ready to invest in the facility.

Last month, FCA told Unifor it would cut the plant’s third shift by the end of September, the result of falling minivan sales on both sides of the border. Windsor Assembly employs 6,100 workers, some 1,500 of which stand to lose their jobs. Unifor President Jerry Dias claims the investment will see a new product built in Windsor.

News of the $355 million investment, said to roll out within the next 12 months, came from a sit-down between FCA brass and Unifor officials on Wednesday, the Windsor Star reports.

“There’s no question Fiat Chrysler is committed to Windsor,” Dias said following a talk with Fiat Chrysler COO Mark Stewart. “The bottom line is they’re investing for future product. It doesn’t mean it’ll save the third shift, but that’s what we’ll work on now.”

What form will that product take? A flurry of reports earlier this year claim an all-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica is in the works, with plant preparation alleged to take place over the summer. Slotting an AWD Pacifica into the automaker’s lineup could potentially prop up the minivan’s sagging sales by drawing in customers who might otherwise have bought a crossover or SUV. Toyota recently added an AWD version of its Prius in a bid to lure buyers in wintry climes.

There’s also the issue of the Chrysler Portal, a minivan-type vehicle, perhaps electric, that’s rumored to ride atop the Pacifica platform. However, that vehicle remains hazy, despite reports claiming FCA has approved its production for the 2021 model year.

“They know what they want to do, but they’re finalizing a few things,” Dias told the Star. “They want to maximize their investment in Windsor. The Pacifica platform gives them all kinds of options.”

He added, “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable (about the plant).”

FCA Canada, when contacted, would not discuss future product or the promised investment.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]




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