Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will idle its minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, for five weeks this summer as it makes improvements and conducts maintenance, the company said.
The Windsor factory, which produces the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, will be down starting 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.
Unifor Local 444, which represents workers at the factory, said in a statement that the plant was already going to be idled the weeks of July 8 and July 15 for a regular summer shutdown before the automaker added three additional weeks of downtime.
FCA plans to eliminate the third shift at the plant on Oct. 21, three weeks later than originally planned, “to accommodate a large order,” spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said. “After that date, the plant will return to a traditional two-shift operation.”
U.S. sales of the Pacifica are down 29 percent to 38,490 this year through May, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Grand Caravan year-over-year demand has dropped 15 percent to 59,732. Industrywide, minivan deliveries in the U.S. are off 17 percent this year through May.
Unifor Local 444 President David Cassidy said 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 favorable 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 is resurrecting the Voyager nameplate for a lower-priced version of the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica that targets entry-level buyers. According to Unifor, FCA will be investing about $267 million in the Windsor plant over the next 12 months for future product.