Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will idle its minivan plant in Windsor, Ont., for five weeks this summer as it makes improvements and conducts maintenance, the company said.
Windsor Assembly Plant will be down from the week of July 8 through the week of Aug. 5.
“Windsor’s downtime has been extended by three weeks to implement improvements or maintenance projects to support new model production. Regular production schedules will resume on Aug. 12,” FCA Canada said in a statement to Automotive News Canada.
According to a statement from Unifor Local 444, the plant was already going to be idled the weeks of July 8 and July 15 for the regular summer shutdown before the automaker added three additional weeks of downtime.
The news comes just days after FCA said it would eliminate the third shift at the plant three weeks later than originally expected. FCA pushed the elimination date back from Sept. 30 to Oct. 21 “to accommodate a large order,” spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement earlier this week. “After that date, the plant will return to a traditional two-shift operation.”
The automaker has sold more than 14.6 million minivans globally since 1983, though the segment continues to shrink, with U.S. deliveries down 17 per cent this year through May.
Grand Caravan sales are down 28 per cent to 13,199 units in Canada through May. Pacifica sales are off 55 per cent, to just 1,617 units through the same five months.
Meanwhile, Unifor Local 444 President David Cassidy informed his members via a Facebook post that union executives held a conference call with members of the federal Liberal government on Wednesday to discuss ways to save the third shift and its 1,500 related jobs.
“We have been putting pressure on all parties involved to find a favourable solution,” Cassidy wrote. “Wednesday we had a conference call with the key players of the Liberal Federal government. It was a good conversation, and the government is open to help to do their part in preserving the third shift. Now that we have the government going in the right direction on this issue, we are trying to get the company going in the same direction.
FCA announced this week plans to launch the Chrysler Voyager, an entry-level minivan to replace the outgoing Dodge Grand Caravan, although the new model won’t initially be available in Canada. According to Unifor, FCA will be investing about $350 million in Windsor Assembly over the next 12 months for future product.