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Four plants closed to avoid the “sales bank”

by David Zatz on

FCA US is temporarily closing no fewer than four assembly plants to avoid ending up with lots of unwanted cars.

The Windsor, Ontario plant still has three shifts, but given that minivan sales fell in 2019 (for all automakers, not just FCA), some plant idling makes sense. Oddly, while the plant was rumored to be losing one of its three shifts, when it reopens it will apparently keep all three. A new vehicle has been rumored to be joining the Pacifica there, replacing the Caravan; there have actually been two rumors, one of a modified Jeep Grand Commander and one of the Pacifica-based Portal.

Belvidere plant, ten years ago

The Belvidere plant right off Interstate 80 is going idle for two weeks, after Cherokee sales started to fall. Automotive News reported that dealer-level incentives for the Cherokee had grown substantially, as FCA first tried to adjust demand. The plant only makes Cherokees, the sole remaining “pure” CUSW platform car made in the United States. (The Grand Commander-based crossover might be able join it,  when and if it finally arrives.)  The Cherokee sits in one of the most hotly contested segments, and also has internal competition from the Compass and Grand Cherokee.

Saltillo, which makes the Ram 1500 Classic, Ram Heavy Duty pickups, Ram chassis cabs, and ProMaster vans, will also have some downtime, as well the Toluca plant which makes the Jeep Compass and Dodge Journey. Journey sales have also fallen substantially; the last major redesign was in 2011, and many expected it to have been replaced by late 2018.

At times in the past, various automakers have tried to keep the plants running, selling cars at massive discounts instead; the strategy rarely worked as hoped.

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