Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the world’s seventh-biggest automaker has agreed to invest around $2 billion to develop and produce the successor to the Chrysler Town&Country / Dodge Caravan in Windsor, Ontario.
The news comes even after the automaker had to drop – because of an impeding scandal – its request for support from the province’ and Canada’s governments last year. The money would be used to develop the next-generation minivan model (unnamed for now, after the Dodge Caravan has been axed) and also retool the Canadian factory. According to Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who spoke with reporters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, the next Chrysler van could be officially revealed in a year from now, in time for the 2016 edition of the Detroit motor show. Marchionne added that the investment total accounts for the related platform investment figure, plant-specific costs and engineering and development funding.
Fiat Chrysler announced that in order to skip political interference it would use its own money and drop the federal funding request posted in 2014 for provincial and federal Canadian money, needed to develop the minivan and other upcoming models. The carmaker’s Town & Country model was the best-selling in the minivan category in 2014, with deliveries jumping 13% to 138,040 units, even as the overall market for family vans has receded lately as customers reorient towards pickup trucks and SUVs and crossovers. Last week, during a briefing ahead of NAIAS, Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler’s sales leader told reporters that its factory in Windsor, Ontario would cease to produce cars for a period of 90 days starting in February to upgrade its facilities and retool as it prepares to start the production of the new minivan in the first quarter of 2016.