Contributors: Mike Sealey, Bill Watson, Lanny Knutson, Jim Benjaminson, David Zatz;
portions courtesy of the Plymouth Bulletin and Chrysler Canada’s 1984 history
We have posted the book, “The Chrysler Canada Story” (with permission)
The Chrysler Canada story starts, in a way, before the very first cars were sold: Walter P. Chrysler’s great-great-grandfather was the first settler in what is now Chatham, Ontario.
In 1916, Maxwell Motors of Canada built a new car plant in Windsor, Ontario. Eight years later (1924), under the leadership of a new president, Maxwell started producing Chrysler-branded cars. One year later, a new Chrysler Corporation was created, acquiring the old Maxwell assets; and, in Ontario, the Chrysler Corporation of Canada, Ltd. was created to acquire the Maxwell-Chalmers Motor Company of Canada. The “new” corporation thus gained a single 61,000 square foot factory on Tecumseh Road East in Windsor, Ontario.
The first president of the Chrysler Corporation of Canada was John D. Mansfield, who had moved to Windsor in 1924 as president of Maxwell-Chalmers. His work in the auto industry began in the 1890s with the Durant-Dort Carriage Co. in Flint, Michigan (Durant was the founder of General Motors); by 1914, he was general sales manager and a director of the Dort Motor Car Co., while Walter P. Chrysler was Chairman of the Board.
Bedecked with flowers, the last Maxwell was driven off the production line in the Windsor plant in July, 1925, and the plant switched to building only the popular new Chrysler. In 1925, the company’s 181 employees built 4,474 cars, at the rate of two per hour, from parts passed down through openings in the ceiling. The payroll was $316,000, and the company had 250 suppliers.
In 1926, production jumped to 7,857 cars, with 243 employees. In 1927, they leased the former Fisher Body plant on Edna street in Walkerville, using it for body assembly and trimming. Production shot up to 13,194.
In 1928, Chrysler purchased 70 acres in Walkerville and started a new 280,000 square-foot passenger car assembly plant, which would form the nucleus of today’s Windsor Assembly Plant. Chrysler also purchased Dodge Brothers and truck makers Graham Brothers, worldwide, and launched the Plymouth and DeSoto brands.
The new passenger car plant started rolling out cars in 1929; 1,566 people produced over 25,400 cars. The first Dodge trucks rolled out of the Tecumseh Road plant in 1931, and four years later the Fargo truck joined the Dodge.
During the Great Depression, Chrysler realized it needed entry-level cars for Dodge and DeSoto dealers in export markets, and created the 1932 Dodge DM by swapping out the Dodge Six for a Plymouth Four (the last four-cylinder Dodge built in North America until the Omni appeared in 1977). This lowered the cost of a basic Dodge, but not by enough, and in 1933, Chrysler Canada introduced the Dodge DQ and DP. These were Plymouths with Dodge grills and ornamentation. In Great Britain, where registration taxes were based on horsepower, they used a smaller bore engine. Using Dodge parts and names on Plymouths to create smaller Dodges continued through 1959.
Fargo was brought into Canada in 1936, to provide trucks for Chrysler and Plymouth dealers — usually, but not always, clear copies of the Dodges. By 1960, there were no differences in appearance or model names, right down to Fargos using Dodge hubcaps. In 1972, its final year in Canada, the Fargo name was relegated to being a decal. Fargo in depth. In any case, the strategy worked wonders in 1936; all previous Chrysler Canada records were broken, with 30,393 cars and trucks produced.
In 1937, the company began a new $3 million engine manufacturing plant just south of the new car plant; by the following year, the new plant was turning out six-cylinder engines, the first domestically produced Chrysler powerplants. The parts and service division moved into a purchased plant in Chatham, about 50 miles away, in 1938.
In 1941, and again in 1942, production rose to over 46,000 while employment climbed to 3,435. As the war increased in intensity, so did Chrysler's efforts to produce badly needed war materials. During the war years, the Chrysler Corporation of Canada built 180,816 trucks (not including 5,400 heavy duty “lorry trucks”) destined for service on all fronts, plus millions of rocket tubes and shells, tracers, igniters, and parts for Bofors guns, and other items. Included in this wartime production were 5,400 specially-equipped military lorries.
In 1942, some 117 million pounds of materials were shipped from the Chatham plant (only five million pounds were shipped in 1938). Chrysler made a substantial contribution to the Allied cause by developing rustproofing, protective wrapping, and packaging methods adopted by the Canadian Government and the British Army. They also developed, in Sorel, Quebec, the only plant in North America to produce guns and gun carriages from scrap iron to the finished weapon.
Early in 1942, Mr. Mansfield retired and was succeeded by C. W. Churchill, who had started with Winton in New York in 1904, met Walter Chrysler at Buick, and was appointed vice-president in charge of merchandising for Chrysler Corporation of Canada in 1934.
The company moved into a new administration building on Chrysler Center in 1949; a record 64,486 cars and trucks were built that year, and employment reached 5,600. Late in 1949, there were major expansions of the engine plant and powerhouse, with more additions to the car plant in 1950, and a new hospital and personnel building.
The practice of creating “Plodges” continued; from 1946 to 1950, the Plymouth DeLuxe was modified to become the Dodge Kingsway, while the Special Deluxe became the Regent. For 1951-1952, the Dodge Crusader (D40-1) was a Plymouth Cambridge with a
Dodge grille and ornaments, carrying a long block 218.1-cid flathead six rather than the American Plymouth's 217.8-cid short block engine; the Canadian version had a wider bore and shorter stroke. The Dodge Regent (D40-2) was based on the Plymouth Cranbrook, while the Dodge Kingsway (D-39) was the equivalent of the Concord.
Through the 1950s, Chrysler Canada used the longer Windsor/DeSoto six cylinder engine block; Plymouths and Dodges had a smaller displacement (228 cubic inches, about 3.8 litres). The HyDrive transmission was sold, but the company had to produce a HyDrive-specific version of the 228 block in small numbers.
In 1951, E. C. Row succeeded Mr. Churchill as president; Mr. Row had worked with Dodge Bros and Chrysler in the United States and Canada, and had been Assistant to the President of Chrysler Corporation of Canada since 1942. Mr. Row was the force behind Chrysler Canada’s tremendous postwar expansion program; in 1955, a $29 million addition to the company's Windsor Engine Plant went into production, and the company manufactured its first V-8 engines. New regional offices and parts depots were opened in Red Deer, Alberta., Regina, Saskatchewan, and Vancouver, British Columbia. A major Windsor expressway today bears Mr. Row's name, acknowledging his contributions to Ontario’s economy.
Canadian-built 1953-54 Plymouths had the usual variations, including the long-block six. Manual transmission cars came with the familiar 218 cubic inch motor; Hy-Drive and Powerflite cars came with the new 228 cubic inch engine, formerly exclusive to the Canadian-built, American-style Coronet.
For the first time, in 1953, the U.S. Dodge front clip and front fenders were mated to the Plymouth body, to avoid matching the Dodge grille to the unique Plymouth “pontoon” fenders. Since the full-sized Dodge had a longer wheelbase, the fenders had to be modified to fit the Plymouth body. The new 241 hemi V8 was not available.
Bill from Toronto wrote, “The 1953-54 Meadowbrook/Coronet sedans and club coupes were built on a 119" wheelbase with the hardtop, convertible and suburban on Plymouth's 114" chassis. The extra 5" was in the rear seat area.”
There were trim differences from American models, including small hubcaps from the 1949-50 Plymouths or Dodges. The full wheelcovers of 1953 were unique to Canada, plain affairs bearing either a Plymouth or Dodge logo on a red background. Mini chrome fins appearing on both 1954 Canadian Plymouths and Dodges did not bear the Plymouth flag logo, as in the US, but a ribbed design used interchangeably on both marques. On the 1954 Dodge Regent and Mayfair (equivalent to Savoy and Belvidere), the Dodge Coronet side trim spear was mated to the Plymouth rear fender chrome. For these two years, Chrysler Canada did not have a two-door sedan, using the close-coupled business coupe (with a back seat) instead.
In 1956, Dodge sold a Canadian Dodge Custom Royal based on the US Custom Royal. It used the 303 cid V8 engine, which was also used in the Canadian Chrysler Windsor and exported to Detroit for use in the Plymouth Fury. The Fury itself, available in the United States starting in 1957, was not made in Canada, but could be imported by dealers.
In 1956, Ron W. Todgham succeeded E.C. Row as President. Mr. Todgham was born in Toronto and moved to Windsor with his family in 1915; as a high school student, Ron took summer jobs in the Chrysler mailing room, and frequently acted as chauffeur to Mr. Mansfield, who encouraged him to continue his education. Mr. Todgham graduated from the University of Michigan, then from Chrysler Institute of Engineering in 1933.
In 1938, Mr. Todgham left Chrysler to become a Dodge-DeSoto dealer in Chatham, Ontario. He sold his dealership in 1953 and helped reorganize a Dodge-Plymouth agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In May, 1955, he rejoined Chrysler of Canada and was appointed Executive Assistant to the President. On July 16, 1956, Mr. Todgham was elected the company's first Canadian-born President. During his first year as president (1956), Chrysler Canada, for the first time, produced more than 100,000 passenger cars in a single model year.
In 1957, the Custom Royal was powered by a new 313 ci engine that, outside of its slightly smaller bore, was identical to the familiar American 318. The unique 313 would remain in Canadian production through 1964.
Even with the massive 1957 restyling, Chrysler Canada continued its practice of bringing in Plymouths as Dodges, putting the full front clip onto Plymouth bodies, and leaving the rest of the car essentially unchanged. Because of a difference in front wheel well openings, the Mayfair's Belvidere-style Sportone trim had to be modified to begin behind the opening. However, the difference between the 122-inch wheelbase of the "big" Dodge and the 118-inch wheelbase of the Plymouth chassis didn't seem to affect the fenders.
Just two engines were offered for the 1957 Canadian Dodges and Plymouths: a 251 cubic inch Powerflow Six that had belonged to the Chrysler Windsor prior to 1955, and a 303 V8. The 303 V8 was the same engine Plymouth had taken across the border in 1956 from the Windsor factory to hop up for its new Fury.
The company increased Canadian prices in 1957 to make up for different exchange rates, so sales were down for 1957. That meant that many customers missed the disastrous quality of the 1957 models, and the company’s reputation was less hurt than in the United States, which may help to explain why Chrysler still has a higher market share in Canada.
Going into 1960, Windsor’s 57-acre complex included the truck plant, with 235,000 square feet of space — the original 1925 Chrysler Canada plant. The car plant, at 1.6 million square feet, was 2,060 feet long and 484 feet wide with a single assembly system building everything from Plymouth to Imperial. The engine plant was 713,500 square feet. There was also:
There were also regional headquarters in Toronto and Montreal, the main parts plant in Chatham, and regional officers and parts plants in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Britich Columbia.
Canadian exports to South Africa diminished after 1960, when John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada, led a movement to have South Africa drummed out of the Commonwealth for apartheid. South Africa was a fairly minor market regardless, but after 1960 it received largely Australian vehicles.
Official photographer Larry Monkhouse wrote: “Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, and Chrysler models were built on the same assembly line. Production included the Chrysler Windsor shown here, and the Dodge Viscount. Dodge and Plymouth models shared body panels.”
The big news in 1960 was the wildly successful Valiant, a separate make in Canada so it could be sold at both Plymouth and Dodge outlets. Valiants started out nearly identical in both countries, diverging into distinctly different cars around the 1963 model year, but reverting to U. S. clone status in 1967, when Australia took on the task of providing locally engineered right-hand-drive Valiants.
From launch to 1966, Canada was the major source of right-hand-drive Valiants and Lancers for Commonwealth nations, including Australia and numerous islands; as a Commonwealth member, Canada had preferential trade ties.
Details on the Valiants of Canada, including Dart-based models and the Lancer, are at valiant.org.
In 1961, DeSoto production ended in most markets. Canada's DeSoto-Dodge dealers were, like American DeSoto-Plymouth dealers, granted Chrysler franchises as compensation. Until Plymouth was dropped in 2001, Canada had Dodge-Chrysler and Plymouth-Chrysler dealers; and after Fargo was dropped in 1972, Plymouth dealers could sell Dodge trucks (so Plymouth “trucks” like TrailDuster and Voyager B-vans were not needed).
The Saratoga was available as a four door sedan and a two or four door hardtop in 1962-1966. The 1962 used the Newport exterior trim with rocker mouldings. The Windsor had no rocker mouldings and used the 300 side trim without the "300" emblem. The final Saratoga (1966) used Windsor taillamps. Convertibles were imported from 1963 to 1965 as the 300; likewise, the 1966, 300 two-door hardtop and convertible were imported as the Sport 300.
The corporation became Chrysler Canada, Ltd. in 1963; by 1972 it had over 3.7 million square feet of factory floor space and produced 292,211 cars and trucks, and over a half million engines.
The company's name was shortened to Chrysler Canada Ltd. in 1963, and the new Pentastar corporate symbol was adopted. The Windsor plant was expanded by 200,000 square feet to extend the main assembly line, and the Central Parts Depot was moved from Chatham to Rexdale, near Toronto International Airport.
Under Ron Todgham, Chrysler Canada purchased three major suppliers in 1964: the Walker Metal Products foundry in Windsor, the former Alcan aluminum die-casting plant in Etobicoke (West Toronto), and L. A. Young Spring and Wire of Windsor, including its Canadian Automotive Trim subsidiary in Ajax.
As for cars, the big 1964 news was the Barracuda, followed by the new 273 V-8. “Valiant Barracudas” were built in Canada only in 1964 and 1965, with minor differences; all other years were imported (as was the 1965 Formula S). 1964 interiors were identical to the American cars, while the 1965 Canadian Barracuda used the Dart dashboard. Even in 1966, the name “Plymouth” did not appear on Canadian Barracudas, even though they were built in Detroit. Only in 1967 were they first marketed as the Plymouth Barracuda.
There was no Canadian Belvidere or Fury I until 1966, when Savoy was redubbed Fury I. For Dodge, there was no Coronet in 1965, and the 330 was renamed Polara in 1966, joining the Polara 440 and Polara 880 already sold there.
The U.S.-Canada Automotive Trade Pact was signed in January 1965, marking end of many distinctively Canadian vehicles. When it was signed, Canada still had the unique Fargo trucks, Chrysler Windsor (Newport), Chrysler Saratoga (non-letter 300 4-door pillared sedan), the Plymouth Savoy (C-body downgraded to Fury I/II trim levels), the C-bodied Canadian Dodge (Polara, Polara 440, Polara 880, and Monaco; all had Plymouth-level engines, trim, and Plymouth dashboards, and a Canada-only Monaco convertible was sold), and two different styles of Canadian Valiant.
The Canada - United States Automotive Trade Agreement, or Autopact, allowed duty-free trade in new motor vehicles and parts. Prior to the Autopact, Canadian automakers had been hampered by short, inefficient production runs and costly duplication of models built in the U.S. Now, they could produce fewer models, but in far higher volumes, with no need to duplicate the full product lines.
In 1966, Mr. Todgham announced the addition of nearly half a million square feet of floor space to the Windsor car and truck plants, and a doubling of the size of the Ajax Trim Plant.
By 1967, there was almost no difference between U. S. and Canadian offerings, exceptions being the Monaco/Monaco 500 convertible and the Fargo line of cloned Dodge trucks — and, for six cylinder engines, the use of direct-drive (instead of reduction-gear) starters. This is a serious problem when switching starters or replacing torque converters / pressure plates; a Canadian starter mated to an American-model torque converter will crack the starter pinion gears. Canada did not switch over until 1967 or 1968.
1967 was the only year since at least the end of World War II that all Canadian Dodges had different instrumentation from their Plymouth counterparts. The 1968 B-bodies on both sides of the border (other than Charger and Super Bee) shared the same gauges, with the Charger gauge cluster appearing on the GTX and Road Runner in 1970. By 1972 one could only tell a Dodge from a Plymouth from the inside by a the emblems ... assuming your car was fitted with the correct emblems, which wasn't always the case.
A $3 million Waste Treatment Plant went into operation in Windsor in 1968, and a major expansion program was announced for the Windsor Engine Plant. A 71,470 square-foot expansion of the company's Etobicoke Casting Plant was undertaken in 1969. Full sized Plymouth and Dodge production was phased out of Windsor, with production centralized in Newark, Delaware.
The first Dodge Demon was a 1970 Canadian show car, featuring a Dart front clip on a lightly modified Duster body and done for a fraction of the cost of a typical show car. Chrysler Canada's history of “mix and match” showed the parent company the way on the Dodge Demon and the Plymouth Scamp.
1971 was a massive sales year for Chrysler Canada, with records in sales, earnings, production, and employment. The Plymouth Satellite joined Windsor’s Valiants; and the unique, new automated piston pouring process developed by Etobicoke employees started up in that plant after six years of work, allowing massive increases in productivity with seven million pistons shipping in 1971 alone and 8.2 million in 1972.
In 1972, Chrysler Canada broke its 1971 records in sales, earnings, production, and employment, with $1.5 billion in sales, 19% above 1971's record; market share shot up to 25% of cars and 16% of trucks. The company earned $41.5 million, net, after taxes. At retail, 163,596 cars and trucks were sold; and Chrysler Canada made cars, trucks, engines, springs, trim, and castings for Chrysler Corporation itself.
The company opened a huge new National Parts Depot in Mississauga, near Toronto. This 805,000 square-foot facility, the largest and most modern of its kind in Canada at the time, replaced the former Rexdale Parts Depot.
Truck sales hit a record of 29,091 sales, a 54% increase of 1971's record sales. Passener car sales were up 16% over the prior record in 1971. Production of cars hit 265,773, and truck production reached 26,438. A whopping 508,345 engines were made, along with 2 million springs; and the Ajax trim plant made 747,568 cushion and seat back covers. Chrysler Canada had 14,300 employees, and two outside board members (from the Royal Bank of Canada and Schokbeton Quebec).
Chrysler Canada had 646 dealers employing 15,000 Canadians, and 80 Autopar dealers selling products through other outlets. No less than 2,000 Canadian suppliers were used for additional parts and services, collecting a total $200 million. The Windsor car plant had 2.2 million square feet of floor space, the engine plant 717,000 square feet, and the truck plant 345,000 square feet.
As it did in the United States, Chrysler sponsored a troubleshooting contest each year, drawing student teams from 263 schools which sent two students each to the competition, the active part of which took place in a large stadium.
Late in 1973, Mr. Todgham announced that Chrysler Canada would build a new light-duty truck plant about a mile from the Windsor complex. The $44 million, 660,000 square-foot Pillette Road Truck Assembly Plant went into production in January, 1976, starting with 160 light-duty vans and wagons a day. The Tecumseh Road Truck Plant continued to build light and medium-duty trucks until 1978, when Chrysler gave up its big-rig ambitions.
In the 1973 model year, Chrysler Canada Ltd. built a record 298,651 passenger cars and trucks.
In 1973, Windsor’s power house was converted from coal to natural gas, eliminated major phosphate washes were eliminated, started incinerating paint sludge, and became the first Canadian automaker to use a new dispersion solvent in its paint, reducing aromatic hydrocarbons by 85%.
On October 1, 1975, C. O. Hurly became President, succeeding Ron W. Todgham. After two years, Chrysler Canada announced a $40 million expansion program that added another 125,000 square feet to the Windsor Engine Plant, and 68,000 square feet to the Pillette Road Truck Plant.
Oshawa native Donald H. Lander, who had joined Chrysler Canada in 1959, succeeded C. O. Hurly in April, 1979; Mr. Hurly was elected Chairman of the Board, but retired soon after, on August 31, 1979. His tenure would be roughly one year before he was replaced by Toronto native Moe J. Closs, who had begun his automotive career in Oshawa in 1943, joining the Parts Division of Chrysler Canada in 1959. Mr. Closs was elected a Vice President of Chrysler Corporation (at the Highland Park headquarters) in 1981.
Windsor Engine Plant production ended in August, 1980, after building over eight million engines in 42 years.
The 1978 Plymouth Caravelle was unique to Canada; a Dodge Diplomat clone, it had a modified grille and taillights, and lasted until 1989. The name came from the Plymouth’s early ship icon.
When the E-body (extended K-platform) Caravelle, based on the Dodge 400/600, was brought into Canada, the M-body version was called the Caravelle Salon, but, to add to the confusion, the word “Salon” only actually appeared on the car when it was ordered with the Salon package.
There was a two-door front wheel drive Caravelle through 1986. Stu McAllister wrote, “This always causes lots of fun at the auto parts counter, since we had two completely different cars with the same nameplate from 1982 to 1989. Interesting marketing approach.”
In 1981, the Windsor Passenger Car Assembly Plant started making the new M-body 1982 Chrysler New Yorker; in early 1982, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for a large plant conversion, including a 220,000 square foot addition to the south end of the Windsor Assembly Plant for a new paint shop.
On May 9, 1983, the five millionth car built in the Windsor Assembly Plant (a white 1983 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue) was driven off the assembly line. One month later, on Friday, June 10, Mr. Closs drove the last Windsor-built, rear-wheel-drive passenger car off the same line.
Then began the most critical phase of the $400 million plant conversion. In ten days, the plant was stripped to the bare walls; then new technology, including 125 robots, started entering the 2.5 million square-foot plant. The first employees were recalled in September, and, on schedule, the first T-115 “Magic Wagon” (minivan) came off the new final assembly line, on October 7. Chrysler Corporation Chairman Lee A. Iacocca presided at the reopening ceremonies on November 2, 1983.
The Windsor Assembly Plant would build nothing but minivans (and Chrysler Pacificas) through to the 21st century, joined for decades by the St. Louis plant, but in the end becoming once again Chrysler’s sole worldwide provider of minivans. In 2015, plans were for it to remain the sole minivan maker, adding a new Pacifica-type crossover around 2017.
In 1984, Chrysler Canada had more than 3.6 million square feet of manufacturing floor space, and over 500 acres of property; purchased from over 1,800 Canadian suppliers; and had a 1983 payroll of more than $300 million.
Meanwhile, the new Dodge Daytona was marketed in Canada as a Chrysler Daytona, and sold by Dodge-Chrysler and Plymouth-Chrysler dealers alike in Canada. This was later followed by the Chrysler Dynasty and Chrysler Intrepid.
While the Dodge Viper grabbed the headlines in the early 1990s, the real Chrysler turnaround was represented by the LH cars: the Intrepid, Concord, Vision, New Yorker, and LHS — all built in Bramalea, Canada. Their successors, the LX series (Charger, 300, Magnum, and Challenger) are built in the same Canadian factory, inherited from AMC.
In 1995, many years after Chrysler had acquired AMC/Jeep, Chrysler dealers in Canada were given Jeep/Eagle franchises, and Jeep-Eagle dealers became either Plymouth-Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge Truck dealers or Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge Truck dealers.
In 1998, Chrysler Canada president Yves Landry (1938-1998) died of a heart attack and was replaced by William C. Glaub, who died not long afterwards, following a boating accident. In the same year, the Yves Landry Foundation was created, “to advance technological education and skills training to resolve the skilled labour and technical professional shortages facing Canadian industry.”
In 2000, Chrysler began eliminating the Dodge and Plymouth car lines; by 2001, the only Dodge car left was the Viper, Plymouth was gone, and the Dodge Neon was the Chrysler Neon. The Dodge Caravan was the best-selling vehicle in Canada for several years starting at this time. In 2003, the no-car policy was reversed with the Dodge SX 2.0 (Neon), followed by other Dodge cars.
In 2005, 318,525 cars were built at the Bramalea factory; in 2006, 314,161. At the Windsor plant, minivan production was around 152,000 from 2004-2006 before shooting up to 171,032 in 2007 (minivans are also made in Fenton, Missouri). Total vehicle production across all manufacturers in Canada was 2.5 million in 2006 (vs. 2 million in Mexico and nearly 10.9 million in the US).
In 2007, Chrysler’s market share was nowhere near its 1970s levels, but was still higher than in the United States. For cars, Chrysler held 3% and Dodge held 4%, for a total 7%; for trucks, minivans, SUVs, and crossovers, Chrysler held .6%, Dodge 15%, and Jeep 6%, for a total of around 22%. Adding cars and trucks, Chrysler showed up with 2%, Dodge with 9%, and Jeep with 3%, for a total 14% market share, still enough to (barely) beat Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury (Ford itself had a 13% share but Lincoln and Mercury were negligible.) In total, Chrysler sold 232,688 vehicles in Canada in 2007, a considerably higher volume than in 1972 but in a much larger market.
In 2010, Reid Bigland was CEO of Chrysler Canada, which had three plants (Windsor, Brampton, Etobicoke), three regional sales offices, three parts facilities, and one headquarters. Around 13% of Chrysler sales were in Canada, and around 30% of Chrysler vehicles came from Canada, where Chrysler had a higher market share than in the US. There were around 50 R&D employees in the Automotive Research and Design Center in Windsor, which does durability testing including coatings (paint).
Chrysler Canada’s market share was around 13% for numerous years (the share was 17% in 1999 and 2000). Chrysler gained more market share than any of the competitors in 2007, and had two of the top five best sellers in the country. For 2014, Chrysler boosted its market share to 15.7% in a record sales year for the company.
In 2010, Canadian sales were dominated by small and compact vehicles (39%), pickups (17%), and people movers (14%). Midsized sedans were just 11%. 83% of vehicles sold in Canada had four cylinders. Chrysler still had a 70% market share in Canadian minivans, got a 2009 J.D. Power most dependable award (three-year reliability). Journey remained the best selling crossover (out of 39 vehicles).
Chrysler had 440 Canadian dealers, all selling vehicles from all brands; 88% were profitable even in the downturn of 2009, with a 25% return on investment (September 2009 YTD.) Canada went from around 490 dealers in 2004 to 440 in 2009.
In 2015, the Windsor Assembly Plant undertook its biggest renovation since the 1980s, preparing to make new Chrysler minivans and, according to public plans, crossovers based on them. It would still make the older Dodge Caravans through to 2017; the Caravan was, by far, the biggest selling minivan in Canada for many years.
James C. Mays’ writing can also be seen on the OldCarsCanada site. Also see: Chrysler Canada summary • Canada at Valiant.org • Fargo Trucks
James Mays’ full book, The Chrysler Canada Story:
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