The highly successful Dodge muscle cars have long fueled Brampton Assembly, but its future under Stellantis likely hinges on the company’s electrification plans, say industry experts.
Doug Betts, a former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executive who is president of J.D. Power’s automotive division, said Dodge could find new life in electrification under the company born of the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and France’s Groupe PSA.
“If, ultimately, [Dodge makes] the transition to electrified powertrains but still [keep] the same personality, then I think there’s a great future [for the brand],” Betts said.
Automakers such as Ford and General Motors are focusing their electrification efforts on premium high-performance vehicles such as the Mustang Mach-E and the GMC Hummer. Historically, FCA lagged its competitors in vehicle electrification. The Stellantis merger gives FCA access to PSA’s electric powertrains, one of the company’s main reasons for wanting to merge with its European counterpart.
FCA and PSA officially merged to form Stellantis on Jan. 16. Flavio Volpe, the head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said production of electric vehicles built on PSA’s DS platform at the Brampton plant, 40 kilometres west of downtown Toronto, could make it a “major winner” under Stellantis.
Unifor has also expressed optimism about the merger, saying the PSA and FCA vehicle lineups complement each other.
“Our members in Brampton will continue serving the North American muscle-car market and will play a unique role in the new company, producing high-demand performance cars not produced anywhere else,” Unifor said in a statement to Automotive News Canada.
Ultimately, the future of Brampton Assembly, which employs about 3,500 hourly workers for two shifts, is tied to the company’s long-term plans for its North American production footprint.
“In the long run, it depends on what PSA’s intentions are for the North American market and how much of their manufacturing space do they actually need,” said Kristin Dziczek, senior vice-president at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
MUSCLE LIVES ON, BUT FOR HOW LONG?