Chrysler Minivan Sales Slump Forces Job Cuts in Canada

1,200 workers become jobless

Chrysler announced on March 5 it is eliminating a shift at its Windsor, Ontario minivan assembly plant, leaving 1,200 people jobless as sales of its iconic people-mover continue to sag.

"Given today's severe economic environment and continued lack of consumer credit, which has affected the minivan market as well, we cannot sustain a three-shift operation at Windsor as we continue to work towards the appropriate level of plant utilization," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler's vice president of manufacturing. The reduction will take effect no sooner than June 24.

The Windsor plant began production of Chrysler minivans in 1983 to accommodate an American "Baby-Boomlet" when the Baby-Boom generation started to have children. Chrysler has since sold 12.5 million minivans worldwide, but competition has eaten away at its market share, now at 44% in the U.S. and 58% in Canada.

The Windsor plant currently produces the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & County minivans, as well as the Volkswagen Routan.

Since 2007, Chrysler has reduced its total production capacity by 30% or 1.2 million units of capacity. This year, it plans to eliminate an additional 100,000 units, cut costs by $700 million and lay off 3,000 more workers.

By the end of 2009, Chrysler will have eliminated seven models from its product lineup, it said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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