Windsor

Fiat Chrysler officially launches Pacifica at Windsor Assembly Plant

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne and other high-ranking company officials toured Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ont., on Friday to celebrate the official launch of the all new Chrysler Pacifica.

Company spent $2.6 billion US reinventing minivan

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne, left, shakes hands with Dino Chiodo, president of Unifor Local 444 in front of a 2017 Pacifica minivan on the Windsor Assembly Plant line Friday in Windsor, Ont. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne and other high-ranking company officials toured Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ont., on Friday to celebrate the official launch of the all new Chrysler Pacifica.

Plant manager Michael Brieda said the Pacifica "is the best vehicle we've ever built here at Windsor Assembly Plant."

Since Chrysler launched the minivan in 1983, the company has sold more than 14 million of them and 10 million of those were built in Windsor.

"We have great confidence the new Pacifica will set the standard in a segment we've led for decades." Marchionne said. "The Pacfica will redefine the roll of Windsor Assembly Plant."

Marchionne called Windsor Assembly Plant "the pulse of the city."

"I promise you, we'll do our best to ensure this pulse continues to beat strong," he said.

Contract negotiations are set to start later this year and Marchionne said he's looking for long-term, mutually beneficial success.

He told employees Windsor Assembly Plant now "controls its own destiny."

Unifor national president Jerry Dias was also on hand. The plant employs approximately 5,800 unionized hourly employees.

While he praised the workforce, Dias didn't speak much of the upcoming negotiations. Instead, he focused on calling on the government to invest in the auto sector.

Dias spoke with Windsor Morning host Peter Duck on Friday. You can hear the interview below:

They're rolling out the red carpet this morning at the Windsor minivan factory. Sergio Marchionne is here to celebrate the launch of Chrysler's new minivan, the Pacifica. Unifor president Jerry Dias has been invited to join the party. 6:08

CBC Windsor and FCA streamed the news conference online. You can watch it in the player below.

If you can't see the video in the player above, go here.

CBC Windsor's Stacey Janzer was inside the plant and on the tour. Before the tour started, she and other members of the media got a ride in the all new Pacifica.

FCA spent more than $2.6 billion US on reinventing its minivan program, including significant upgrades made to the Windsor plant.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica was unveiled earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

It's the latest incarnation of the family hauler that took the suburbs by storm. Lee Iacocca, Chrysler Corp.'s former chairman, drove the company's first minivan off the assembly line in 1983.

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica will replace the upscale Chrysler Town & Country minivan. It's arrived at some U.S. dealerships and is trickling out to Canadian dealers now. The Pacifica hybrid should arrive in the second half of 2016. Although, folks in Windsor got an up-close and personal look at one during Earth Day celebrations last month.

More than 10 million minivans have rolled off the Windsor assembly line since it started building what the company calls "the ultimate family vehicle" in 1983.

"That vehicle represented an entirely new concept and was a historic game changer," Marchionne said.