American tariffs could be 'lethal' to Windsor, says Fiat Chrysler CEO

Sergio Marchionne said Canada has a long history of entwined auto industries with the U.S, so Canada shouldn't be a "target" for president-elect, Donald Trump. If tariffs were put in place they could be "lethal" for production in Windsor.

'There have been no tweets on Canadian production of cars,' said Sergio Marchionne

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says his company's recent investment in U.S. plants has nothing to do with Trump. (The Associated Press)

The head of Fiat Chrysler said tariffs, like the taxes president-elect Donald Trump has recently hinted at for American auto makers in Mexico, could be "lethal" for the company's auto manufacturing in Windsor.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne made the comment at the 2017 North American International Auto Show Monday where earlier the Windsor-made Chrysler Pacifica had been named the utility vehicle of the year.

"It's a combination of tariffs and costs," he said. "If we just can't recover the costs of the vehicle that would be lethal, I think, to Windsor." 

The auto executive tempered his concerns saying he expects "Canada will not be involved" in any of the trade disputes Trump has been tweeting about.

"To the best of my knowledge there have been no tweets on Canadian production of cars," he quipped, causing a flurry of laughs from American journalists.

Instead, Marchionne said, Trump's criticisms have focused on Mexican production, which the president-elect sees as "more problamatic."

"The relationship between Canada and the United States on cars goes a long time back, even before NAFTA," he said. "I would expect that somehow the new administration would be aware of that history and would not necessarily look at Canada as a target."

Pacifica top of its class

By winning the 2017 utility vehicle of the year, Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger brands of FCA, said the Chrysler Pacifica had proved the old idea that "minivans stink" was wrong.

"We're very proud of minivans, we love minivans," he said. "Minivans are the best thing for a family." 

Kuniskis added that workers in Windsor had earned the award.

"The employees in Windsor should be really proud of this," he said. "The build quality has been fantastic. We're bringing this hardware home to them."