Stellantis extends downtime at Chrysler minivan plant

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV is extending downtime another week at its Chrysler minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario, the automaker confirmed Tuesday.

The plant, home to the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager, will idle the week of May 17. The plant has been down since late March and was shut down for three weeks in February before that due to the global semiconductor shortage that has shaken the automotive industry, thinned inventory at dealerships and increased vehicle prices.

The microchips are used in vehicle electronics from the steering wheel to the infotainment system, as well as numerous other components. 

A worker assembles a Chrysler Pacifica at Windsor Assembly in Ontario. The plant will be down for an additional week next week, according to the union representing workers there. It's been down since late March due to the global semiconductor shortage.

"Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry," company spokeswoman Kaileen Connelly said in a statement.

The plant, which employs almost 4,400 hourly workers, has lost 45,329 vehicles in the time that it has not produced this year, according to Tuesday estimates from AutoForecast Solutions LLC. 

Windsor isn't alone. Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, home to the Jeep Cherokee SUV, will be down through the middle of May, Stellantis previously said. Warren Truck Assembly Plant, which produces the Ram 1500 Classic pickup truck, is down through the rest of the month. Crews also have been reduced at Detroit's Jefferson North Assembly Plant, which builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.

The additional downtime comes after Richard Palmer, Stellantis' chief financial officer, said last week the impact of the chip shortage is expected to be worse in the second quarter than in the first three months of the year. Stellantis lost about 190,000 vehicles, or 11% of planned production globally, during the first quarter.

The company hopes to see some relief in the third quarter as problems resulting from a March fire at a semiconductor plant in Japan and the February cold snap in Texas are resolved. But with limited visibility into the manufacturing of these parts deep in the supply chain, issues could extend into next year.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble