Fiat Chrysler pauses major construction projects in Detroit, Warren
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has suspended construction on its new assembly plant in Detroit and at its Warren Truck Plant for two weeks amid the new coronavirus pandemic, the automaker confirmed Tuesday.
FCA is planning to launch new vehicles under its popular, profit-heavy Jeep brand at the facilities, including the redesigned Grand Cherokee, returned Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer and new three-row SUVs. Construction on the projects paused Friday.
"Out of an abundance of caution and in the best interests of everyone working at both sites, we will be halting construction work at the Warren Truck and Mack Plants for the next two weeks," company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement.
The company is not commenting on the effect of the paused construction on vehicle launches. During the work stoppage, FCA says it will deploy an extensive cleaning program and social distancing protocols that it already has introduced at its other facilities.
"When we are satisfied that the sites are ready to resume construction, we will continue with the programs," Tinson said.
The company is transforming the idled Mack Avenue Engine Complex on Detroit's east side into the city's first new assembly plant in nearly 30 years. And it's on a tight deadline to do so in just 16 months so that production of the three-row Jeep can begin in the last three months of this year. The Grand Cherokee is expected to launch in early 2021.
On Thursday evening, the company had paused construction after a subcontractor "potentially" tested positive for COVID-19, FCA said at the time. Work had resumed Friday morning after the subcontractor conducted deep cleaning of the employee's workspace, but stopped again later.
The Warren plant has suspended production of the previous-generation Ram Classic pickup truck as the automaker shuts down plants across North America because of the outbreak. The facility is getting a new paint shop and being retooled for the Wagoneers. Construction began in the fall and was expected to shut down for retooling at the end of March. CEO Mike Manley on a third-quarter earnings calls in October said the downtime would be 14 weeks.
Together, the projects represent an investment of more than $3 billion and will create 5,250 new jobs in Metro Detroit.