Chrysler will close its Windsor, Ontario assembly plant for 12 weeks in 2015 in order to prepare the plant for the next generation of Chrysler vans.
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler Group LLC and newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, made the announcement at a press conference along with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during a tour of Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan on Sept. 26.
Marchionne said the 12-week shutdown would “bridge between the first and second quarter of next year.”
“We are going out of production for three months so we’re going through a detailed study right now to make sure that we can run the plant flat out until then, then take it down and bring it back up.”
The company currently uses the Windsor plant to produce the Chrysler Town & Country (MY15 $34,695) and the Dodge Grand Caravan (MY15 $20,995).
However, the company will axe the Grand Caravan model altogether and the next generation van will live exclusively through the Chrysler brand.
The automaker has not confirmed if the new van will carryover over the Town & Country name or whether the yet-unseen vehicle will wear a whole new moniker.
He also noted that the brand would offer both new and old versions of its van products during the change over.
“It’s a very complicated transfer because we are going to be running both products at the same time.”
Dodge dealers across the country will be high and dry once production is ended. After pioneering and popularizing the segment over three decades ago dealers will no longer be able to offer “the best selling minivan in Canada for over 30 years.” Grand Caravans will soon be relegated to the used lot.
Whether the new, Chrysler-exclusive van will concede sales to the Toyota Sienna (MY15 $28,600) or Honda Odyssey ($30, 250) remains to be seen, but the frequently outspoken CEO has already made his opinion clear: “It’s a stunning vehicle”.
For Chrysler Canada, the new van is icing on the cake. The company is currently enjoying 57 consecutive months of sales growth and 2014 is on pace to be the best ever sales year in its 89-year history.
Grand Caravan sales were up 14 per cent from August 2013 to August 2014 (37,542 units). The company did not reveal Town & Country sales for the period.