Windsor is home to North America’s most technologically advanced assembly plant.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been a key part of the Windsor-Essex community for 93 years. It proudly wears the badge of the region’s largest private-sector employer, with a workforce of 6,000 at the Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP), plus more at its Canadian headquarters in the city’s downtown core.
FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) is the automaker’s sole. FCA wthe recent recipient of more than $1 billion in retooling, making it the most technologically-advanced assembly plant in the company’s North American industrial network.
The plant has built Chrysler and Dodge minivans since 1983, solidifying Windsor as the birthplace of a vehicle that created a new segment for North American car buyers. The Windsor-Essex automotive supply chain, as well as the region’s research and development talent, have helped FCA introduce and implement a steady stream of industry-leading innovations.
In 2016, FCA launched the latest-generation minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica. It became the first in its segment to offer such advanced safety features as parallel and perpendicular parking assist, forward collision warning with brake mitigation, lane departure warning with mitigation and rear park assist with auto stop.
Later that year, FCA introduced the Pacifica plug-in Hybrid. This was the industry’s first electric minivan, which also is the focus of an FCA-Google partnership designed to develop self-driving vehicles. Waymo, Google’s California-based autonomous-driving spinoff, is incorporating its technologies into a test fleet of Pacifica Hybrid minivans. Waymo’s initial order of about 100 hybrid minivans has since grown to thousands.
“For more than nine decades, FCA Canada has grown into one of the largest automotive companies in Canada, with roots that reach deep into the Windsor-Essex business community. From humble beginnings in 1925 with 181 employees and 4,500 vehicles built, we’ve grown to nearly 12,000 employees, building 530,000 vehicles annually, with 440 dealerships and 267,000 sales in 2017,” said Reid Bigland, president and CEO, FCA Canada. “Today, we are focused on providing vehicles that fit the lives of Canadians, whether it’s with a go- anywhere Jeep product, a supercharged muscle car or a vehicle that contributes strongly to a sustainable future, like our Windsor-built Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.”
Both the gas and hybrid versions of the Pacifica have received numerous industry accolades. These include the prestigious Utility of theYear award at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit for the gasoline-powered minivan and the 2018 Canadian UtilityVehicle of the Year award by AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada).
All told, Pacifica has more than 80 awards under its belt, becoming the most awarded minivan of the past two years.
Research and Development
Over the past twenty years, FCA Canada has invested more than $1 billion in research and development. Much of the research & development in the Windsor-Essex region with partnership projects between leading Ontario universities, including Windsor, McMaster and Waterloo and the FCA Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC).
Among other things, the ARDC performs road simulations. These simulations test for for extreme weather, corrosion control and precision headlight testing.
FCA refers to the ARDC as “a crown jewel” within the automaker’s global research and development facilities. It’s a 20-year collaboration that has been committed to “developing the next generation of vehicles and engineers,” said FCA.
ARDC research can be found on the Pacifica. At the the centre’s lighting tunnel – the only one of its kind – Pacifica’s beam patterns and light intensity were benchmarked against competitive vehicles to ensure optimum visibility without causing glare to other drivers.
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