Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica andÂ Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeingÂ impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?
Not really, but that doesn’t matter â€” the Grand Caravan has to meet updatedÂ U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.
At least the line workersÂ at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to.Â
Unifor Local 444, which consists of 4,000 unionized hourly employees at the factory, explained toÂ Automotive News that the Windsor factory will be shut down for roughly five weeks beginning October 2nd, if everything goes according to plan. However, FCA’s labor contract allows it to move up the idle date to September 27th if it so chooses.
The reason for the downtime is due to the Grand Caravan’sÂ nonobservance of new U.S. side airbag regulations that went into effect this month. This is the same mandate that effectively killed the Dodge Viper but, as the Grand Caravan has space for the airbags and is far too important to send into oblivion, FCA needs to retool so it can install the new safety devices as standard equipment.
Unifor says its not worried about the dwindling supply of Grand Caravans.Â U.S. dealers were told in June to load up on the model, because after August there was no guarantee they wouldÂ receive any additional stock for at least seven months. Sales of the 2017 model will continue in Canada, but the U.S. will have to wait until production resumes with the 2018 MY minivan in December.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]