There could be far more jobs than originally expected coming to the Windsor Assembly Plant in the new year, according to coy comments made Friday by the head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada.
The company is already planning to fill 600 positions as it ramps up production of its new 2016 Town and Country minivan. But the previously projected number of new hires is "very conservative," said Reid Bigland, president and CEO at FCA Canada.
He made the comments in Windsor after announcing this year's fundraising contribution from FCA employees to the United Way.
Talking to reporters, Bigland said he'd make the announcement of the actual number of new jobs sometime in January, likely around the time of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, at which the company will unveil the updated minivan.
"We're going to save that [for] when we get closer to the Detroit Auto Show, as well as the Toronto Auto Show, to get into a little bit more details about the van, the impact on the community and what's been going on at the plan," he said.
The head of the union representing workers at Windsor Assembly Plant was just as evasive Friday.
Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo was also at FCA headquarters on Riverside Drive for the donation announcement.
When it comes to the actual number of new hires, he would only say "at least 600."
"Let's leave it at that," he said. But "I think people will be very surprised and pleasantly surprised at that."
Bigland also stressed that he's "very concerned" about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could affect the automotive industry in Canada. But, once again, the FCA Canada president would not go into details.
He wants to give the new federal government time to familiarize itself with the TPP agreement and the needs of the auto industry before saying too much.
"We're in the process of having meetings with the new federal Minister of Trade [Chrystia Freeland] and I just prefer to keep those comments behind closed doors at this point," Bigland said. "We'll have to wait and see as to what they do and give them an opportunity to settle in, get ministers in place and have them get educated as to the impact of the auto industry in Canada, which is significant."