One of the “Big Three” Is Closing a Factory in Detroit

Viper GTS on the line
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Fiat Chrysler is Closing Conner Assembly Plant

One of the “Detroit Three” automakers has announced a factory closure in Detroit. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which is one of the biggest automakers in America, has announced that it is closing its assembly plant on Conner Street in the east side of Detroit.

The Detroit-based company has confirmed that the facility, which is spread over 390,000 square feet, is being permanently closed.

In the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice (WARN) filed with Michigan’s Workforce Development Office, the company reports that the 87 workers who were employed at the factory could be facing layoffs. A company spokesperson, however, has said that the workers are expected to be offered positions at other plants.

The Conner Street plant is known for assembling Fiat Chrysler’s famous  “Dodge Viper” sports car. The plant closure was highly expected after the company confirmed last year that it was discontinuing the Viper brand.

The last time the plant was temporarily closed was back in 2010, when the automaker met with bankruptcy, following which the production of Dodge Viper was temporarily halted. Two years later, Fiat Chrysler revamped the facility, redesigned the sports car, and reopened the factory in hopes to jump back into business.

The car’s price was also slashed to attract more customers. Nevertheless, the car has failed to meet Fiat Chrysler’s sales expectations, despite all efforts.

The Conner Street assembly plant was built in 1966 and was acquired by Chrysler in 1995. Products that have been produced on the plant’s assembly lines over the years include the “Prowler,” the “SRT10 Roadster,” the “SRT10 Coupe,” and Viper 10-cylinder engines.

Following the plant closure, Fiat Chrysler will be left with one other factory within Detroit borders. General Motors also occupies a plant space in close proximity of Chrysler’s plant.

In addition to competing with Japanese and German automakers, Fiat Chrysler faces stiff competition from the two bigger American automobile manufacturers, General Motors Company and Ford Motor Company.

The three American companies, jointly called the “Detroit Three” or the “Big Three,” have witnessed a dip in sales this year after auto sales peaked in 2016. Demand for passenger cars—including sedans and sports cars—has particularly slowed, while SUVs and crossovers have been doing well in terms of sales.

The three automakers have been cutting back on production lately, and have laid off hundreds of workers in the past year.

Sources

Viper production to end as FCA closes Conner Assembly in Detroit,” Detroit Free Press, July 12, 2017.

Viper factory in Detroit to close after Fiat Chrysler kills supercar,” USA Today, July 12, 2017.

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