Chrysler minivan production down 4% at Windsor plant

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant is making fewer minivans this year than last.

Ford's Essex Engine plant remains optimistic because sales remain high

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant is making fewer minivans this year than last.

Tony Faria is the co-director of office of automotive research at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business.

He said the plant will build 15,000 fewer minivans, which equates to a four-per-cent drop in production.

"Dodge Caravan production is down. We have lost production of the Volkswagen Routan," Faria said.

Faria said production at the plant is not reflective of vehicle production across North America, which is on an upswing.

Faria said Windsor has still produced 330,000 minivans this year but that minivans have been on the decline for the past few years.

"Minivan segment is down a little bit this year and of course long term wise has continued in a loss of position in the light vehicle market."

Faria said the Dodge Grand Caravan will disappear all together after this model year.

Tom Mayhew of Motor City Chrysler wishes the Grand Caravan would stick around but he and Faria agree, Chrysler may fill the void with differently priced town and country models.

Faria said the future of the plant is still bright but in order to keep three shifts going, Chrysler has to put another product in there.

"Chrysler will be introducing new crossovers both under the Chrysler name plate and the dodge name plate," Faria said. "I'd love to see one or both of those coming into the Windsor Assembly Plant."

Meanwhile at Ford's Essex Engine Plant strong auto sales bode well for the engines produced there.

Faria and the president of Unifor Local 200 agree the $700 million invested in Oakville indicates a likelihood of another product to be produced there.

"The investment in Oakville certainly indicates that Ford is not unwilling to invest in its Canadian operations," said Chris Taylor, Unifor Local 200 president.

Taylor said while the engines produced in Windsor don't go to the vehicles currently produced in Oakville they could go into whatever new product Ford decides to build there.

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