Employees at Chrysler’s plant in Windsor, Ontario can breathe a sigh of relief as FCA has extended the life of the third shift at the factory for the rest of the year.
Originally, the third shift was supposed to be eliminated on September 30 due to sluggish North American sales for the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan. However, the company later extended it until October 21 to accommodate a large order.
According to a Facebook post by the Unifor Local 444 union representing Windsor plant employees, FCA Canada has now extended the third shift until “until at least the end of 2019.” The union did not say what motivated the automaker’s decision.
“This is not a final solution, but every one of these extensions provides us more opportunities to work with the company to get a final resolve that maintains our third shift and current workforce for the future,” Unifor Local 444’s statement reads.
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While the automaker confirmed the extension, it did not go into details as to why it decided to keep the third shift operational through 2019. Ending the shift would result in about 1,500 layoffs at the plant which currently employs 6,000 people.
The facility will reportedly end production of the Dodge Grand Caravan in May 2020, as the aging model will be replaced by the Chrysler Voyager, an entry-level version of the Pacifica.
In 2018, U.S. minivan sales reached their lowest level since 2011 with a total of 473,090 units. That’s only about one-third of the 1.37 million sold in 2000, the peak year for minivan sales. In the first half of 2019, sales were down another 15 percent and the decline does not show signs of ending. Consequently, minivan market share has shrunk from 7.9 percent of U.S. new-vehicle sales in 2000 to 2.6 percent this year, according to Autonews data.
Minivan sales in Canada were also down 17 percent in 2018 to 71,878 units compared to 86,888 in the previous year, with market share shrinking to 3.6 percent in 2018 from 4.3 percent in 2017.