Fiat Chrysler said this week it was going to cut a shift at the Michigan factory that builds the Chrysler 200 model, thus laying off about 1, 300 workers.
As the demand for the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan plunged 63 percent in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier, Fiat Chrysler said it was forced to align production with demand at the automaker’s Sterling Heights plant. Therefore, the company will eliminate a shift from July 5, thus laying off 1,300 workers. Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said back in January that FCA would eventually stop making the Chrysler 200 as well as the compact Dodge Dart, as it shifts focus on the better-selling and high-margin Jeep and Ram models. The Michigan plant has been on idle for a while because of slow sales of the “200”, as production lines have been halted from February 1. Workers at the Sterling Heights in suburban Detroit will return to work this coming Monday, the company said.
United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell said in a statement that the cuttings were not a surprise, and expressed optimism that FCA would find jobs for workers by making more trucks and SUVs. “FCA is not the only company experiencing a slow market for small cars,” Jewell said. “On a bright note, there is a strong demand for larger-sized vehicles. The company has been planning to increase its capacity to build more trucks and SUVs. I believe that in the long term this move will be a positive one for our members and the company.”