Earlier this week, it was revealed that production of 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans headed for the US would stop in August. Strangely, it wouldn’t start up again until 2018 models began in December. But it wasn’t clear why. Now it looks like the stoppage is due to an airbag problem.
An FCA spokesperson told the Windsor Star that “Grand Caravan for the Mexican and Canadian markets is not effected.” So Canada will continue to get the minivans, but the US won’t.
FCA didn’t make it clear why the stoppage was occurring, but Automotive News reports that it’s due to changes to side-impact airbag rules in the US. In 2011, a new regulation came into effect that changed how side-curtain airbags were designed. The new airbags are bigger and must stay open longer in order to better protect occupants.
The report suggests that the current Grand Caravan couldn’t meet that new regulation. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said in 2015 that “there are technical reasons why that car cannot be sold for a much longer period of time than the current time. It’s just there are regulations that are coming into effect in 2017 that are going to restrict it.” The new airbag rule is likely that regulation.
The Grand Caravan has stayed popular, despite the introduction of the upscale 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. That means that Dodge wants to keep building them. So they are designing a fix to help the airbags meet the new US regulation. Dino Chiodo, president of Unifor Local 444 which represents the plant’s workers, said that “They’re already working on this, so I don’t see it as a big long process.” He added that “everybody’s working on this and we’ll be selling in the States again in no time.”
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