Automotive News Canada - October 2017 - 9
* OCTOBER 2017
Which challenge could sink Brampton? Pick one
LOOK NO FURTHER THAN
Fiat Chrysler's Brampton
Assembly in Ontario if you want
to get an idea of just how
uncertain the long-term viability
of auto manufacturing in
Canada really is.
The suburban Toronto plant,
examined on Pages 21 and 22
of this issue, was pledged $325
million by FCA last year for a
new paint shop. The investment
promise was a victory for labour
leaders, who had repeatedly
warned that the plant was in
danger of closing if it failed to
replace its aging paint shop. It
certainly bought the plant at
least a few years.
It would be strange for Fiat
Chrysler or any automaker to
close a plant it had just invested hundreds of millions of dollars into, after all.
But the long-term picture
remains incredibly murky, just
as it is for most other assembly
plants in Canada.
For one, the plant builds
three low-volume cars: the
Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger
and Dodge Challenger. We don't
need to tell readers of this publication how poorly the car market is faring as utility vehicles
and trucks dominate Canada
and the United States, but it's
clear that securing production of
a new utility vehicle would
change the equation for
But there are other factors at
play, including Fiat Chrysler
potentially being sold off and
the various economic and
real-estate factors at play in the
neighbourhoods surrounding the
Perhaps most pressing at the
moment, though, is the future
of the North American Free
Trade Agreement. There are no
easy answers on NAFTA. Simply
put, Brampton and other
Canadian auto plants might be
caught in a bit of a Catch 22.
Should NAFTA renegotiations
produce a more protectionist
trade agreement (or no agreement at all), labour leaders
would be sure to declare victory
and declare Canadian jobs safer
than they were before.
The problem is no automaker
in a globalized marketplace
would like to build vehicles in a
country with higher labour costs
and restrictive trade. The result
could be a Canadian marketplace that's seen as less attractive for new auto investments.
After all, part of Mexico's appeal
to automakers, aside from lower
labour costs, is its numerous
On the other hand, there is
no denying that NAFTA has cost
The long-term picture for
Brampton Assembly looks
murky, just as it does for
other plants in Canada.
Canada manufacturing jobs,
especially in the auto sector.
Sticking with the status quo, or
something close to it, would do
little to ensure Brampton
Assembly and other Canadian
plants stick around for the long
term, especially since the
Detroit Three seem intent on
shifting much of their car production to Mexico over the next
Can NAFTA be renegotiated
in a way that simultaneously
bolsters Canadian manufacturing while keeping trade open?
What might a potential FCA
suitor do with the company?
Will FCA commit production of
top-selling vehicles to Canada?
The answers to each of
those questions could ultimately
determine the fate of Brampton
Assembly - and Canadian auto
manufacturing. - ANC
There are so many balls in the air - NAFTA, market demand
for utility vehicles and whether FCA will be sold - that it's
likely one of them will evenutally hit Brampton Assembly.
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