Any pending arrangement between Chrysler LLC and Fiat SpA could see a huge reshuffle of Chrysler's manufacturing facilities all across North America to make way for joint production of a new generation of vehicles to be sold with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat and Alfa Romeo badges. Included among the possible sites for retooling are those in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Toluca, Mexico; and Belvidere, Illinois.
The Windsor plant is where Chrysler currently builds its minivans, the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and the star-crossed Volkswagen Routan. Windsor also happens to be where Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne went to university, but there's talk of shifting minivan production away from Ontario, possibly down to Toledo, Ohio, in order to make way for local production of the Alfa MiTo and a future small Chrysler to be based on the next Fiat Grande Punto. Toluco, where the Dodge Journey and soon-to-be-discontinued Chrysler PT Cruiser are currently produced, could be retooled to build the Fiat 500 and a new Jeep based on the next Fiat Panda Cross. Finally, while Belvidere currently assembles the Jeep Compass, Patriot and Dodge Caliber, the Illinois plant could end up assembling Fiat-based replacements for those vehicles, plus a jointly developed next-gen Jeep Liberty and Alfa crossover, in addition to the replacements for the Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Avenger and Alfa 147 and 159.
Retooling the plants, however, could cost as much as half a billion dollars each. Of course, this plan is all part and parcel of the larger Fiat/Chrysler tie-in currently under negotiation, and would require greater concessions from union leaders – especially the Canadian Auto Workers who have reportedly been hesitant to budge from their position. Should the two automakers come to an agreement, however, the Federal government could consider additional loans, in part to help finance the retooling.
[Source: Automotive News – subs. req'd]