Chrysler shifting production
By Grace MacAluso, The Windsor Star
April 20, 2011
In a "shocking" move, Chrysler Group is planning to move worldwide production of the replacement vehicle for the Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles from its plant in Belvidere, Ill., to Fiat SpA's Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy, according to research and consulting firm AutomotiveCompass. At the same time, Chrysler will move global assembly of the Alfa Romeo Giulia mid-size sedan from Mirafiori to Belvidere.
"Isn't that a shocker," Doug Shepard, senior associate at Automotive-Compass, which regularly distributes advisory reports on global auto production.
The production switch was confirmed by AutomotiveCompass's U.S. and European auto supplier clients who have been in discussions with Chrysler engineers, Shepard said Tuesday.
"We've got confirmation on both sides of the pond that the replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot goes to the Mirafiori plant in Italy and the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan goes from Mirafiori to Belvidere, Ill."
A Chrysler spokeswoman would not comment, saying the auto maker has made "no announcements about the production of future product."
The move is "surprising given that North America is Jeep country and Europe is Alfa country," said Shepard. But both vehicles "will share a common Fiat platform, which is flexible and expandable to cover both vehicles." Start of production is January 2013 in both cases.
"It's one more step on the road toward the global integration of Chrysler and Fiat," said Shepard.
Planning volumes for the two vehicles will range from 125,000 to 150,000 units, he said.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is trying to re-establish Alfa as a global brand, targeting 500,000 units a year by 2014, Last year, Fiat sold 100,000 Alfa vehicles.
The Giulia would compete with luxury performance brands, such as the Audi A6 and BMW 5-series.
After securing changes to labour agreements covering 2,735 employees at Mirafiori in January, Marchionne announced that the plant -Fiat's oldest factory in Italy -will undergo a US$1.3-billion retooling.
The Giulia will share a platform with the next generation Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200, said Shepard."They will all share a common platform and have similar powertrains, but each will have unique sheet metal, interiors, driving characteristics and intended target markets in keeping with their separate brand identities."
Recent media report said Marchionne was not satisfied with design proposals for the Giulia, thus delaying the vehicle's launch from late 2012 to mid-2013.