Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expected to begin retooling its Windsor minivan plant in Canada this summer to add an all-wheel drive powertrain to the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, according to a senior union official.
Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, said the Windsor Assembly Plant could go down for an additional three weeks following a two-week summer shutdown slated for the weeks of July 8 and 15.
"It's all based around the all-wheel-drive minivan," Cassidy said Friday. He said he was still awaiting confirmation for the retooling weeks from the company.
An FCA Canada spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.
Automotive News Canada reported on March 6 that FCA appeared likely to add an all-wheel drive option to the Pacifica, which is assembled in Windsor alongside the Dodge Grand Caravan. The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan on the market that currently offers awd.
All-wheel drive is an increasingly popular feature in Canada, where snowy and icy conditions are commonplace in winter. For instance, the Sienna awd made up 58 percent of Toyota’s minivan sales in Canada in 2018, compared with 26 percent in the United States.
It was not immediately clear how extensive the retooling would be, nor how much it would cost.
The Windsor plant’s last major retooling came in the lead-up to the launch of the 2017 Pacifica, when FCA spent more than C$1 billion ($750 million) on the plant.
FCA, whose minivans account for 59 percent of segment sales in Canada and 56 percent in the United States, could view awd as a way to boost Pacifica sales north of the border. FCA Canada sold 5,999 Pacifica minivans in 2018, compared with 32,253 sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
FCA sold 118,322 Pacifica vans in 2018 in the United States, virtually unchanged from 2017 sales levels. It sold 151,927 Grand Caravans last year, up 21.4 percent.
According to its website, FCA employs 6,104 workers at the Windsor plant, which operates on three shifts.