Grand Caravan production coming to an end is good news?
An official with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the company does not comment on future production schedules, but a forecasting company believes FCA will cease production of the Dodge Grand Caravan at the Windsor Assembly Plant in May.
AutoForecast Solutions LLC said in its weekly report production will cease May 22.
It provides its clients with an eight-year forecast of production in the auto industry, updated monthly.
The news comes not long after FCA announced it would start production of the Voyager at its plant in Windsor.
AutoForecast Solutions President and CEO Joe McCabe insisted the demise of the Grand Caravan is not bad news.
“This is the antithesis of that. This is saying no; they’re not only staying in it [the minivan market], they’re making an investment in a new one,” he said.
Talk of the demise of the Dodge Grand Caravan has persisted for years, and FCA is the only automaker with a “two-pronged minivan strategy”, explained McCabe. “They are starting the Voyager; I think this month or next month. So, there’s no room for three minivans.”
The Windsor Assembly Plant also builds the Chrysler Pacifica.
“The Voyager is going to share the same underpinnings as the Pacifica which makes it more cost-effective for Chrysler,” McCabe told BlackburnNews.com. “It makes manufacturing operations more efficient.”
He predicts once production of the Grand Caravan ends, the company will ramp up its Voyager production in hopes those buyers will make the switch.
The Grand Caravan has not had a significant redesign since 2008, and McCabe calls the vehicle “dated”.
The big question is, what will this mean for the third shift?
The company announced months ago it would end that shift at the end of September, and then pushed the date back to the end of October after a large order came in.
“The general market for minivans is declining, but we’re not seeing it going away,” said McCabe. “They’re not going to be able to produce at the 370,000 units once they’ve done at Windsor when minivans were at their hay day. We’re talking about the plant coming in at the mid-200,000 to high-200,000 production units every year out of Windsor for that two minivan strategy. Potentially adding in a cross-over at Windsor in the future, which would give some light to adding third shift back.”
Until that happens, he suggested the company will maximize the use of the two shifts with overtime.