FCA reschedules April down weeks for Ontario plants

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada will idle a pair of Ontario assembly plants for two weeks each in April, the company confirmed Tuesday night.

The Windsor Assembly Plant, which builds the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, will be down the weeks of April 1 and 8. The Brampton Assembly Plant, which produces the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger, will be down the same two weeks.

The shutdowns were scheduled to allow the automaker “to align production with demand,” FCA Canada spokeswoman Lou Ann Gosselin said in an email to Automotive News Canada.

But on Friday, Gosselin said “due to a parts shortage at an external supplier, FCA is re-timing the down time at the Windsor Assembly Plant from the weeks of April 8 and 15 to the weeks of April 1 and 8.”

Normal production schedules are expected to resume the week of April 15.    

The company has already temporarily idled the Windsor plant three weeks in 2019. The plant did not operate the first two weeks of January in order to adjust for inventories. It then idled the plant the week of Feb. 18 due to a parts shortage, the company said.

And, the automaker said Monday in order to adjust for inventories

Gosselin said, “regular production schedules are expected to resume in April.

“We are not providing details beyond the statement,” Gosselin said when asked specifically whether the line has been slowed to stem production or the actual time an employee spends in the factory is being shortened.

About 6,000 employees at Windsor Assembly build the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Pacifica and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid on three shifts daily, usually six days per week. 

Running at full volume, the plant produces nearly 1,500 minivans per day.

Pacifica sales in the United States in 2018 were unchanged at 118,322, off just 48 units from the year before. In Canada, Pacifica sales were down three per cent to 5,999 in 2018. 

U.S. sales of the Pacifica are down 24 per cent to 14,817 units through February while Grand Caravan sales are down 27 per cent to 19,634 units.

Pacifica sales in Canada are down 54 per cent to 512 units through the first two months of 2019. Grand Caravan sales are down 20 per cent to 4,836 units.

The Pacifica had 88 days of supply in the United States as of March 1, 2019, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit. The Grand Caravan had 20 days of supply. Similar data isn’t made public in Canada.

About 3,500 employees work on two shifts at the Brampton plant. Gosselin said Brampton was previously down the first two weeks of January.

Chrysler 300 sales in the United States totalled 4,586 through February, down 32 per cent. Challenger sales were down 28 per cent to 6,869 units while Charger sales were off eight per cent to 11,757.

The Chrysler 300 had 76 days of supply on March 1 while the Challenger and Charger had 116 and 71 days of supply, respectively. 

In Canada, 300 sales were down 30 per cent to 390 units through the first two months of the year. It’s more positive news for Brampton’s two otherproducts. Challenger sales were up 93 per cent to 453 units and Charger sales rose 38 per cent to 920.

Unifor officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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