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Chrysler celebrates 2011 minivan launch at Windsor Assembly

by Bill Cawthon on

Employees at the Windsor Assembly Plant celebrated the production launch of new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. The new minivans are among the 16 new or significantly refreshed products Chrysler has rolled out over the past year.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Canada President Reid Bigland and Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza were joined by Sandra Pupatello, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and other local officials in a ceremony recognizing the importance of the plant, the workforce and the new minivans to Chrysler’s future success.

“The new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country remain key parts of our revival plan,” Marchionne told more than 1,200 employees in the audience. “Our collective future is dependent on the success of this plant and these vehicles. We’re in this battle together. We must continue to put our trust in each other and make a true, full-faith effort to work together.”

Marchionne also reminded employees that it was with the assistance of the federal government of Canada and the Province of Ontario that Chrysler has been given an opportunity to create a future.

“Chrysler Group owes a deep debt of gratitude to taxpayers in Canada and the U.S. for the loans that enabled a re-energized, restructured company to emerge in June 2009,” said Marchionne. “We recognize we have a moral responsibility to fulfill our promises, justify these investments and pay back every penny that was loaned to us.”

Since 2008, Chrysler has invested more than $1.4 billion in the Windsor plant, preparing for the launch of the new minivans. The Chrysler Town & Country is the best-selling minivan in the United States while the Dodge Caravan is the best-selling minivan in the world. In the U.S., one of every five vehicles sold in 2010 by Chrysler Group was a Chrysler or Dodge minivan. Small wonder that Windsor is currently the only Chrysler Group assembly plant that operates on three shifts with more than 4,400 employees.

“This is a proud day for Chrysler Group and the CAW as it launches two new minivans, thereby preserving good manufacturing jobs in Canada,” said Lewenza. “Our commitment and effort over more than 25 years have played an important role in the success of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country.”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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