Why the Stellantis plant in Brampton, Ont., might be without product in 2024

Stellantis’s assembly plant in Brampton, Ont., might not have anything to build beyond 2023 as the automaker plans to move production of the Dodge Charger and Challenger muscle cars to the U.S. the next year, according to AutoForecast Solutions, a leading forecasting and consulting firm.

“Analyzing the Stellantis portfolio… across North America, one of the things we see is the Charger and Challenger potentially going to the United States, leaving a void at Brampton starting in 2024,” AutoForecast Solutions CEO Joe McCabe told Automotive News Canada when asked about the automaker’s electrification plans.

McCabe’s comments came after Stellantis’ EV Day earlier this month, when the automaker said it would introduce a battery-electric muscle car to its lineup in 2024. Stellantis has not said where that car would be built.

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Brampton Assembly currently builds the gas-powered Charger and Challenger cars, as well as the Chrysler 300 sedan, which is expected to be phased out by 2023. The Charger and Challenger are believed to be highly profitable vehicles for Stellantis, but it has remained unclear what the company’s long-term plans are for the Brampton factory especially as the automaker embraces electrification and software development to the tune of $35 billion through 2025.

A request for comment from a Stellantis Canada representative was not immediately returned.

Unifor Local 1285 President Danny Price said the union has received “no indication at all” that the automaker would stop building the Charger and Challenger at Brampton. Local 1285 represents about 3,000 hourly workers at the plant.

“Our products right now are paying the bills for Stellantis,” Price said. “Our days of order right now are higher than when we launched these vehicles years ago… You don’t close a plant that’s got product that’s paying the bills for the rest of the corporation.”

Price said Brampton will be in line for electric muscle-car production.

“As long as we’re selling those vehicles, we’re making them,” he said. “That’s been our agreement since we launched those vehicles. We’re the sole provider. If they want to start to electrify them, we will be building them.”

AFS’ forecast does not necessarily mean Brampton Assembly will close. The forecasting firm said in 2020 that Ford Motor Co.’s Oakville Assembly in Ontario would no longer build Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus crossovers beyond their current life cycles, leaving the plant with no product mandate in the long-term.

That AFS forecast, first reported by Automotive News Canada, brought new urgency to that year’s negotiations between Unifor and Ford. They later agreed to a C$1.8-billion investment ($1.4 billion U.S.) in the plant that will eventually bring EV production to Oakville, replacing the outgoing Edge and Nautilus.

Unifor and Stellantis are set to negotiate a new contract in 2023. A request for comment from Unifor President Jerry Dias was not immediately returned.

During the 2020 negotiations between Unifor and Fiat Chrysler, Stellantis’ predecessor, the automaker agreed to invest C$50 million ($40 million U.S.) in the Brampton factory to introduce new derivatives of the Charger and Challenger during the life of the agreement.

But long-term questions about what the plant would build beyond 2023 were left unanswered, standing in contrast to investment plans worth up to C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) that the two sides agreed to at Windsor Assembly, which builds minivans for Stellantis. The automaker plans to build at least one new electrified model there by 2025.

Stellantis plans to introduce four EV platforms in the coming years that will have ranges from 300-500 miles. The company said 98 percent of its models in Europe and North America will be electrified by 2025, and it set a goal of having more than 40 percent of its sales in the U.S. being EVs by 2030.

Dodge, long known for its high-powered internal combustion engines, is along for the electrified ride.

“If a charger can make a Charger quicker, we’re in,” Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis previously told Automotive News.

Vince Bond Jr. contributed to this report.

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