Windsor

'Logistical nightmare': FCA feeder plants have to adjust for shutdown

Add another few weeks of shutdown at the Windsor Assembly Plant to the calendar.

FCA minivan factory will be closed the weeks of April 8 and April 15. 

The FCA Windsor Assembly Plant will shut down for two weeks in April. (Geoff Robins/Canadian Press)

You can add another another shutdown at the Windsor Assembly Plant to the calendar.

Both the Windsor and Brampton Fiat Chrysler Automobiles factories will idle for two weeks in April. 

Windsor's plant will be closed the weeks of April 8 and April 15. 

According to FCA Canada spokesperson Lou Ann Gosselin, the shutdowns are meant to "align production with demand."

The Windsor factory has been shut down twice already in 2019, with two weeks of closure in January and one in February. 

High-end minivan too expensive for average consumer

Automotive expert Dennis Desrosiers said the shutdowns are a multi-faceted issue.

As an automotive consultant, he's noticed the market has moved away from minivans. He said it's mostly light trucks or crossover vehicles being purchased.

"The Pacifica is one heck of a vehicle," said Desrosiers, describing it as a "premium" minivan that has to compete with other "premium" SUVs. 

"Minivans have that soccer mom image still," said Desrosiers — but he said a high-end minivan like the Pacifica isn't something a soccer mom can afford. Instead, they're going to buy the Dodge Caravan. 

Ontario-based Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants is a leading Canadian auto industry analyst. (Submitted)

Desrosiers doesn't think the Pacifica should be scrapped.

"I think Chrysler is searching high and low for another vehicle for that plant," said Desrosiers, calling Windsor's plant one of the best in North America. "It would be high on the list to produce another vehicle to reach its full capability."

Associated plants have to adjust

Jim Scott, president at Ground Effects said the shutdown has a huge impact on other manufacturing plants in Windsor.

"We have to move people around to our plants," said Scott. "As you know, the sales have been down."

A February report shows sales for the Windsor-made Chrysler Pacifica dropped about 60 per cent. The Windsor factory also makes the  Dodge Grand Caravan, which saw sales rise 12 per cent from last February.

President of Ground Effects Ltd., Jim Scott, said he has to shuffle his employees to other plants so they don't get laid off. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Ground Effects installs a number of Pacifica components, like DVD players, into the vehicles after they come off the line. Scott said they can be considered an "extension" of the plant.

"Before the vehicle gets to the dealer we've done a lot of stuff to it."

Scott estimated that Ground Effects handles up to 19,000 Pacificas a year. Ground Effects employees are moved around to the other plants in the city, but work is what Scott calls "spotty."

"It's a logistical nightmare really," said Scott. "You might be busy on a Monday, nothing coming at you Tuesday, but busy on a Wednesday again."

The Walker Road facility employees — about 18 people — will be shuffled to one of the other Ground Effects plants.

"We love the work," said Scott. "We'll fight our way through it."

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