Fiat Chrysler is laying 1,300 employees off from its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, the place where the struggling Chrysler 200 sedan is built, according to Automotive News. The 200 was supposed to represent the once-struggling company’s “triumphant” return to the highly important midsize sedan segment, but this illustrates the car’s ultimate failure in the marketplace.
Chrysler bet the farm on the 200. The company dumped more than $1 billion into the plant, which was once on the chopping-block, and touted it as one of the most state-of-the-art in the business. It was a big deal for the company but it appears their investment has not paid off.
With CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to let the 200 and Dart die off and then farm out the next one to another automaker, the 200 was deemed a failure by Fiat Chrysler. But now Automotive News reports that Fiat Chrysler is pulling back production and firing a full shift of workers, further admitting defeat in the midsize sedan segment.
The 200 was never a bad car, especially when priced out with some decent options. But it was small, had awkward rear doors and snug rear seats, and never really gave any buyers a good reason to pick it over a Honda Accord, a Toyota Camry or even a Ford Fusion.
FCA told the news outlet that “it intends to return the plant to a one shift operation, beginning July 5,” and that in the meantime, the laid-off workers would be placed in positions at other Detroit-area labor facilities based on seniority.
UAW’s vice president Norwood Jewell released a statement, saying:
While today’s announcement of a shift reduction at Sterling Heights Assembly is unfortunate, it is not unexpected. FCA is not the only company experiencing a slow market for small cars.
The trade pub says 200 sales have dropped 63 percent between December and March, and that workers at the assembly plant have been idled for 12 weeks this year.
FCA reportedly has a 150-day supply of 200s, the biggest supply of any car other than the Fiat 500, which is also suffering from poor sales.
That’s sad news for employees who lost their jobs, and sad news for Fiat Chrysler, a company that was was once so optimistic about their fresh, sleek new Fiat-based mid-size sedan.
At least people are buying Rams and Jeeps like crazy.
Note: The block quote above was originally attributed to FCA, but it was actually a quote by UAW vice president Norwood Jewell.