According to Sergio Marchionne, all wheel drive will be returning to the Chrysler minivans’ option list for the first time since Stow ‘n’ Go pushed it out. All wheel drive was an early minivan option, appearing on the second generation of the iconic vans.
Mr. Marchionne also talked the timetable for minivan production. He said he was negotiating with the province of Ontario for aid (possibly in the form of tax breaks, though he was not specific) to keep building minivans in Windsor financially attractive, versus other locations. Minivans have been built in Windsor since their debut, though they were also built in the United States for many years.
Speaking at a gathering of electronic media, Marchionne said:
We have the best intentions vis-à-vis Windsor. I think that we have done all the work that needed to be done to make sure we had the right architecture for the minivan. That’s done and completed. So we’re now in the process of finalizing style choices for the minivan. In an ideal world, if we could get all our ducks lined up, we could start as early as 2013 to start industrializing the plant. So it could happen as early as this year.
While the plant might start being updated in late 2013, the minivans need much more time to be developed.
The launch won’t happen until sometime at the end of ’14 or the beginning of ’15. You may see it here January 2015. May.
The new minivans will not just be a powertrain transplant or cosmetic makeover, but a full re-engineering from the ground up.
But the architecture exists, which is not an inconsequential choice, because that architecture inside the minivan today is probably one of the oldest we have within the family and so it needed to be substantially upgraded. We have done all that work from the engineering standpoint; we understand fully what it needs to do.
… maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this. One of the things that we’ve been looking at is a possibility of using a minivan architecture to introduce plug-in hybrids and make that sort of standard fare for the minivan, but it’s still too early to make a call. Certainly the architecture exists and is capable of doing all those things.
Mr. Marchionne reassured the group that the next generation minivans would still be capable of everything the current vans are, but with added capabilities.