Chrysler 300 is out, the Portal is in, but questions remain

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The downsized Chrysler brand will eliminate the last of its sedans but gain a second people-mover nameplate in 2020 with the introduction of the Chrysler Portal electric van, based on the concept of the same name.

The Chrysler 300 is built at FCA’s assembly plant in Brampton, Ont. It is not yet known how the end of the vehicle’s production will affect that factory’s future or where the Portal will be built.

“The Chrysler 300 will be available for the 2019 model year,” FCA Canada spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said in an email to Automobile News | tomobile.org Canada. “We don’t speculate on rumours regarding future product.”

“There is nothing official from the company. It’s all been secondhand information, but the 300 is going to be gone and replaced by a CUV. That’s been thrown out there before,” said Unifor Local 1285 President Jaspal Brar. “But, we’re waiting for something more definitive. We’re anticipating something sooner rather than later.”

In January 2018 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted at the end of the Dodge Grand Caravan and that a new product could be bound for the automaker’s assembly plant in Windsor, Ont.

“The replacement of the Caravan will be a Caravan-like vehicle,” he told reporters. “I need another minivan. It’s going to be inline with the Pacifica architecture.

“The platform that was installed in Windsor to deal with the Pacifica is a world-class platform. I think it’s capable of utilization beyond its current use in the minivan. I think there are plans in place to try to take another product into it. For now we’ll wait until the plan.”

Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents workers at Windsor Assembly Plant, said he has “zero details at this point” when it comes to what might happen in Windsor.

Earlier this summer, the Brampton Assembly Plant underwent a five-week shutdown as the automaker retooled the aging paint shop.

FCA committed $325 million to refurbishing the paint shop during labour negotiations with Unifor in 2016, a move union leaders described as vital to keeping the factory open long-term.

“They did quite a bit of work in there. It wasn’t just in the paint shop, it was across assembly and [the] body [shop], too,” Brar said of the retooling this summer.

U.S. sales of the 300 were down 3.8 per cent to 51,237 units in 2017 and they are down 13.8 per cent to 30,533 through August this year.

In Canada, sales were up 18.3 per cent last year to 4,332 units but they are down 12.7 per cent to 2,909 vehicles through August this year.

Here’s a snapshot of the future of three FCA vehicles:

300: The aging full-size sedan will be eliminated in 2020, ending a production run that began in 2005. No replacement is expected.

Pacifica: The minivan is due for a freshening in 2020 but won’t be redesigned until 2024, based on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ current product cycles.

Portal: The fully electric minivan will go into production in 2020. It’s based on the popular Portal concept FCA debuted in 2017 at CES in Las Vegas. The concept had a retractable steering wheel and was capable of autonomous driving. Those features are unlikely to be ready for the production launch, but look for the Portal to maintain its sleek, reconfigurable interior styling and perhaps even its sliding French door design.

Greg Layson of Automobile News | tomobile.org Canada contributed to this report.

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