(Adds comments from CEO, Italy’s prime minister)
By Bernie Woodall
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept 26 (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said on Friday that the automaker’s Windsor, Ontario minivan plant will be shut for 12 weeks of upgrades in the first and second quarters of 2015 ahead of its production of the company’s next-generation minivan.
The work would “bridge between the first and second quarter” of 2015, Marchionne said. He added that the company must make detailed plans to ensure that it can continue to build the current minivan until the shutdown.
Chrysler now offers two minivans in North America, the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan. The Dodge minivan will be phased out and Marchionne has said the next-generation van will be a Chrysler, but he has not said it will still be called the Town & Country.
Marchionne made his comments to reporters at a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at Chrysler headquarters near Detroit.
The Chrysler chief, who is also CEO of Chrysler parent Fiat SpA, again said that the merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 13, which is the day after the celebration of Columbus Day, which commemorates the Italian explorer’s landing in America.
The new company will be registered in the Netherlands, have a tax domicile in Britain and have operational headquarters in both Auburn Hills and Turin, Italy.
Renzi said that he is not concerned where Fiat is based and what is more important is that Fiat continue to offer jobs to Italians.
Marchionne said Chrysler’s alliance with Fiat will in the end “breathe life” into Italy’s industry. He also said the time has passed for any negotiations with provincial or Canadian officials regarding government incentives to upgrade the Ontario plant.
Chrysler had reportedly sought $700 million in government support toward a $3.6 billion investment for the plant, but the deal was scuttled when government officials pressed Chrysler on how much of its investment would be spent in Ontario, it was reported in March. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Meredith Mazzilli and G Crosse)