Crossovers and SUVs are here to stay, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doubling down on them at the expense of cars. Following rapidly declining demand for the Chrysler 200 sedan, FCA will slash 1,420 jobs at the car’s Sterling Heights, Michigan, assembly plant and related stamping plant.
The company informed the United Auto Workers it would be cutting back to just one shift, starting July 5. FCA will put 1,300 workers from the Sterling Heights assembly plant and 120 workers from the stamping facility on indefinite layoff status, with the intent to place senior workers first in open full-time positions as they become available in the Detroit labor market.
According to FCA’s official statement, the decision was made to “better align production with demand” at the plant. The Detroit News reports that production of the Chrysler 200 came to a halt on February 1 because of rapidly declining sales, and CEO Sergio Marchionne himself spelled doom for the disappointing mid-size sedan earlier this year with the announcement that both it and the Dodge Dart compact would be discontinued.
So far this year, Chrysler 200 sales are down an incredible 63 percent year-over-year.
The failure of the Chrysler 200 represents a major, and by many estimations permanent, shift in customer tastes from sedans to crossovers and SUVs, and FCA is pushing its Ram and Jeep brands hard to stick with that trend. The company is prioritizing these vehicles above all else, even going as far as delaying the introduction of the much-hyped Alfa Romeo product offensive.
Next up for FCA are plans to introduce hybrids into its decidedly non-electric stable, beginning with the new Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid going on sale later this year.