After spending over $US500m recently to improve manufacturing flexibility at its Windsor assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, Chrysler on Tuesday celebrated the manufacturing launch of its redesigned 2008 Chrysler and Dodge minivan lines.
The Canadian plant will gain additional volume frm this year as it will build the right-hand-drive, diesel and other export versions of the new minivans. Previous models were assembled under contract by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.
Chrysler pioneered the minivan in North America (Renault's Espace arguably took the same honour here in Europe) about 24 years ago and has since built nearly 12m. The segment subsequently expanded greatly as rival Detroit automakers, followed by the Japanese and Koreans, fielded competitors but several automakers have subsequently abandoned the segment as it has fragmented and contracted somewhat with the more recent arrival of SUV-like ‘crossovers'.
Chrysler is claiming an industry first for its latest minivan models - the ‘Swivel ‘n Go' seating system and a removable centre console table.