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Windsor Chrysler Plant to Hire 1,200 Workers

February 11, 2016

Just a few months after announcing it would be going on a hiring spree, the Windsor Chrysler plant will be hiring even more workers–with 1,200 positions slated to be filled.

In October, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada said it was looking to hire “several hundred” people at the Windsor Assembly Plant, in addition to the 4,500 hourly workers already working there.

Now, as the plant gears up for assembly of the Town and Country minivan, as well as the Grand Dodge Caravan, the company expects to hire 1,200 workers. The plant will also be rolling out the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

Reid Bigland, CEO of FCA Canada, made the announcement at the Canadian unveiling of the new van, and its hybrid variant, at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto on Thursday.

The plant currently assembles about 1,400 minivans a day on three full shifts.


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Fiat invests $3.7-billion, creates 1,200 jobs

Fiat invests $3.7-billion, creates 1,200 jobs, for new minivan

Feb. 12, 2016


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said on Thursday that it has invested $3.7-billion since September, 2014, and created 1,200 jobs in Canada to develop and produce its next-generation minivan. The Pacifica, which is also being developed as Fiat Chrysler’s first hybrid electric minivan, is in early production stages at the company’s plant in Windsor, said Reid Bigland, president and chief executive of FCA Canada.

FCA had previously said it would spend $2-billion (U.S.) to develop the new minivan and retool the Windsor plant for the new minivan, which was unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. The Pacifica program brings Fiat Chrysler employment in Canada to just over 11,000, he said.

“It’s only pilots right now,” Bigland told reporters at the Canadian International Auto Show. “We should start to ship them out to our dealers in Canada and the United States in May of this year, give or take.”

The investment comes at a time when the Canadian auto sector is facing headwinds, as manufacturers shift production to lower-cost jurisdictions like Mexico. Auto executives at the show said concerns such as the Canadian government’s decision to tax federal loans to manufacturers and the country’s trade policy would affect future investment in domestic production.

Auto workers and Canadian divisions of Detroit’s auto makers met the federal government in December over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would phase out tariffs on Japanese imports to Canada in five years, compared with a phase out over 25 years in the United States.

Canada’s Liberal government is now reviewing whether to ratify the TPP, which was negotiated by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tory government.

“We are very concerned about the TPP and the impact that it has on the Canadian automobile industry,” Bigland said.

“Trade policy matters – especially with autos,” said Dianne Craig, chief executive of Ford Motor Co. of Canada, in an earlier interview on Thursday. “We were very disappointed with the outcome of TPP.”

Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors of Canada, said GM has not yet taken a position on the TPP.
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Ontario auto sector may idle now for years

Ontario auto sector may idle now for years

02/17/2016

There are a few bright spots these days in Ontario's auto sector, but they are not sufficient to restore the province to its former manufacturing status and, sadly, may represent the peak of the current investment cycle in North America.

Prominent among them is the $3.7 billion Fiat Chrysler Canada has spent to design a new minivan and retool the Windsor plant where it will be assembled. The project is so large the company has since hired an additional 1,200 employees to help fulfill the anticipated production bonanza.


It's remarkable news especially given fears a few years ago that Fiat Chrysler might move its minivan production out of Canada. That it chose to invest billions in the Ontario economy shows the company's faith in this province's auto industry and its ability to realize a sound return on investment.

But Fiat Chrysler almost stands alone. General Motors has invested $560 million in its Cami facility at Ingersoll, and this prompted the hiring of additional workers. And Toyota plans to spend $500 million in its Cambridge plant to build crossover vehicles, to replace production of the venerable Corolla. The investment will help secure Toyota jobs in Ontario.

Yet Corolla production is going to Mexico, a useful metaphor to explain our auto sector challenges. A decade ago Ontario led the continent in automobile production, but not now. While automakers invested a total of $1.5 billion in existing operations in Ontario in 2015, they spent $4.5 billion in Mexico (less than half what was spent in 2014 in Mexico). Since 2010, eight new assembly plants have been built in Mexico, but not one in Ontario.

Even the U.S. has regained its manufacturing mojo. According to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., the U.S. will receive $29.3 billion in new spending this year, including a new Volvo plant and a plant to build commercial vans for Daimler AG.

Auto analysts doubt there will be more investment for Ontario. They suggest the post-recession automotive sales boom may be weakening, and the investment it prompted will begin to slow. Ray Tanquay, a special auto advisor to the Ontario and federal governments, believes a new cycle of automotive-related investment might not begin for another four years.

Still, Fiat Chrysler's faith in Windsor suggests Ontario has a manufacturing future, and that such investment is well-placed.

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