NAIAS 2018

FCA CEO hints at new product for Windsor, says commitment to plant is 'unwavering'

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' commitment to its Windsor Assembly Plant is "unwavering," said CEO Sergio Marchionne, before hinting at the possibility of a new product.

Caravan replacement will be a minivan

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne speaks with reporters during a press conference at the North American International Auto Show on Jan. 15. (CBC)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' commitment to its Windsor Assembly Plant is "unwavering," said CEO Sergio Marchionne, before hinting at the possibility of a new product.

Marchionne made the statements during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Centre in downtown Detroit.

"The commitment to the Windsor plant is unwavering," he said, but added the company still needs to find a replacement for the Dodge Caravan in the next two to two-and-a-half years.

"The replacement of the Caravan will be a Caravan-like vehicle," Marchionne explained. "I need another minivan. It's going to be inline with the Pacifica architecture."

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said his company's commitment to the Windsor Assembly Plant is "unwavering." 0:36

"The platform that was installed in Windsor to deal with the Pacifica is a world-class platform," he added "I think it's capable of utilization beyond its current use in the minivan. I think there are plans in place to try to take another product into it. For now we'll wait until the plan."

U.S. NAFTA proposal should be 'retuned'

Marchionne also spoke a U.S. proposal that would require vehicles to have 85 per cent North American content to avoid paying a tariff.

The CEO said he believes there may still be some room for negotiation when it comes to that number.

"I sincerely hope that some of these demands that are being pushed by the U.S. administration are going to be retuned."

I'm hopeful, confident may be too far, but I'm hopeful [there is] a more rational number going forward.- Sergio Marchionne, FCA

He said the figure was part of a series of initiatives from the Trump administration to "realign" its interests in NAFTA.

Although Machionne said he "can't imagine what a world without NAFTA looks like," he understands how the U.S. could feel slighted by the trade agreement.

That's why he believes FCA has "done the right thing" by investing more than $1 billion to bring the Ram Heavy Duty truck from Mexico to Warren, Mich. and giving all 60,000 hourly and salaried employees a $2,000 bonus, Marchionne added — something the company hopes addresses the president's concerns about moving American jobs to other countries.

"I'm hopeful, confident may be too far, but I'm hopeful [there is] a more rational number going forward, and if it is more rational I think we'll be able to make the standard," Marchionne added. "But I think we need to wait until this thing is over."

with files from Reuters