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Fate of Imperial rests on CAW shoulders


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Chrysler Imperial Gets Royal Flush From CAW Plant
By Eric Mayne
Link to Full Article @ WardsAuto.com, Mar 2, 2007 9:20 AM
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Workers at Chrysler Group’s assembly plant in Brampton, ON, Canada, have thrown a monkey wrench into the embattled auto maker’s long-term product plans.

Brampton workers rejected a company proposal that asked them to forfeit C$134 ($115) per week in return for the contract to build a vehicle, dubbed ‘Product X’ for purposes of the vote.

However, Ward’s learns the vehicle is the contentious Chrysler Imperial sedan, and production is targeted for 2010.

The wages in question represent extra pay negotiated by the Canadian Auto Workers union as compensation for concessions such as shortened break times, which were necessary to accommodate the plant’s transition to three 8-hour shifts in 2005. Presently, Brampton workers perform eight hours of labor, but they are paid for eight hours and 48 minutes.

Had they approved the deal, as recommended by CAW leaders, Brampton workers also would have ensured their plant would remain on a 3-shift production schedule past 2009.

The Feb. 19 vote, decided by a margin of 1,464 to 1,157, leaves Chrysler’s proposal “dead in the water,” warns Jerry Dias, national CAW representative at the Brampton plant.

This represents a setback for Chrysler, but a spokesman says it does not affect the product cadence set out in the recently unveiled “Recovery and Transformation Plan,” which promises 20 new and 13 refreshed vehicles through 2009.

However, Chrysler is mum about the prospect of reviving the proposal, and about plans for building the Imperial, which debuted last year as a concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“Is it unfortunate? You’d better believe it,” says Bob Chernicki, assistant to CAW President Buzz Hargrove. “Is it the wrong way to do it? Absolutely. We are disappointed in the decision. But hey, that’s democracy. And that’s what works in our union.”

Of Chrysler, Chernicki says: “We’re waiting for their reaction.”

The union is willing to continue discussing the matter, he adds, but no talks are scheduled.

A Chrysler spokesman offers no hints about the auto maker’s next move, saying only that the two sides meet regularly on various issues.

Meanwhile, analysts are perplexed by the notion of the Imperial joining Chrysler’s lineup.

“I don’t know of any automotive journalist who likes it,” says Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Inc. “I think it’s a little over-the-top.”

Powered by a 5.7L Hemi V-8, the Imperial concept is about 17 ins. (43.2 cm) longer than its LX platform-mate, the Chrysler 300 sedan. Featuring a bold grille that recalls Rolls Royce, it also is about 6 ins. (15.2 cm) taller than the 300.

The 300 shares Chrysler’s LX platform with the Dodge Charger sedan and Dodge Magnum cross/utility vehicle – all of which are assembled at Brampton. However, according to Ward’s data, those vehicles migrate to the next-generation LY platform in model-year ’10.

In addition, the LY platform will support the ’09 Dodge Challenger, set for a 2008 production launch in Brampton. This suggests the Imperial also will be based on LY, says Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with AutoPacific Inc.

Like Phillippi, Brinley questions whether there is room in the Chrysler showroom for an upscale vehicle such as the Imperial.

“The 300 projects a nice price/value equation,” she says of the acclaimed sedan, which starts at $23,880.

However, that car tops out at $42,520 for a performance-oriented SRT version. Assuming the Imperial is positioned above the 300, “the premium for an Imperial seems a little big,” Brinley adds.

The Imperial would lend some cachet to the Chrysler brand, but in terms of a business case, Brinley also wonders about sales projections. “Volume is always where the question is,” she says. “What do they really expect?”

Chrysler is not saying, but Chernicki has an idea.

“Unless this product comes on board, we don’t have the third shift,” he tells Ward’s. “They’ve said that to us pretty clearly. Even with the products they’re building today, (plus) the Challenger, you can’t sustain a third shift.”

According to Ward’s data, Brampton built slightly more than 276,000 vehicles in 2006 – a 3.1% hike over 2005’s total of 267,883.
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Thinking like this is probably why I'll never own another Chrysler vehicle. Ever.

Also why I am anti-union.

I hope the shut the Goddamn plant down.

Chris

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I really can't see the logic behind the (hideous) Imperial.... I mean, wouldn't that set Chrysler up in MB territory and why would anyone in their right mind buy an MB ovr a better and cheaper Chrysler. (I know, the name MB carries a lot of weight, but it's becoming tarnished with poor quality and the introduction of Maybach didn't help it's "premium" status that much)

I think, the only reason the Imperial is even on the table is 1) To maximize volume on the LY platform and up profits and 2) To keep the UAW/CAW working instead of sitting on their asses collecting a free check.

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I agree. Screw this Imperial concept, it is truly revolting.

Such money could be used to better the appearances and interiors of other models (Sebring, anyone?) or to build stunning cars again like the Firepower, Airflite, and others.

Or relaunch Plymouth!

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I agree. Screw this Imperial concept, it is truly revolting.

Such money could be used to better the appearances and interiors of other models (Sebring, anyone?) or to build stunning cars again like the Firepower, Airflite, and others.

Or relaunch Plymouth!

I agree that it would be nice for Chrysler to relaunch Plymouth, but they can't afford to spend that money on a fourth brand right now, especially one that got as redundat as Plymouth did in its last few years.

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I agree that it would be nice for Chrysler to relaunch Plymouth, but they can't afford to spend that money on a fourth brand right now, especially one that got as redundat as Plymouth did in its last few years.

:rolleyes: Please :rolleyes: Launching Plymouth would be the stupidest move the company could do. There is already way to many auto choices and with profits being needed to justify a vehicle, I say it would be better to enhance current portfolios than launch or even think about brining back an old name plate that is pretty much useless. Let the old dog lay dead guys.

The current 3, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler name plates is more then enough for this market and they can make a proper profit margin with these brands if they put out proper and correct product that people want to buy. They will get there I think! :)

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personally, I like the look and the idea, but like others have said, I dont' think its the right time, or even the right brand. Something like that, though a lot more refined I bet might make for a good baby Maybach

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Who said it would look like that concept? They had that Chrysler Nassau which hints at the next 300.

It if is done right, and comes loaded and with few options, they might have something. They are planning on sharing GM platforms if Mercedes Benz keeps Chrysler. So that car would be a zeta vehicle if it did not us the LY. Anything is possible.

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I'll take one with this hood ornament:

Posted Image

:wub:

I think the car is hot. They only need to work on the back end. If you can get one for around $50K, they will sell like mad.

You people don't get it. Chrysler is really getting into flex-manufacturing. They can, and probably will, build 5 different models on the same line in Brampton. They don't all have to be mega high volume, but they do have to make a profit......and that will happen with a car like the Imperial.

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