UPDATE 2-Chrysler halts appeal for Canadian funds, will still invest in plants

Tue Mar 4, 2014 6:22pm EST
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* Fiat CEO says call for support became "political football"

* Plans to produce next-gen minivan in Windsor will proceed

* Brampton will benefit from revamped models

* Fiat CEO says other countries hope to lure minivan production

By Susan Taylor and Bernie Woodall

TORONTO/DETROIT, March 4 (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC said on Tuesday that it would push ahead with development plans for two key assembly plants in the Canadian province of Ontario, but will keep its "strategic options" open after withdrawing requests for government funding.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said its appeal for cash from the governments of Canada and Ontario had become a "political football," showing the country's short-sighted view of industrial development.

Pressure began building around the issue in January, after Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said that Canadian governments needed to step up with financial incentives in order to secure Chrysler's investment plans. Back in 2009, the two levels of government had contributed about $2.9 billion toward Chrysler's bailout.

"As a Canadian, I regret my failure in having been unable to convey the highly competitive nature of markets that offer manufacturing opportunities to carmakers that operate on a global scale," said Marchionne in a statement. Marchionne has dual citizenship in Canada and Italy.   Continued...