Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is gearing up to restart production at most of its facilities in North America this month. Save for the automaker’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, which will resume operations on June 1, all other facilities are set to return to work on May 18.
This isn’t to say, though, that the coronavirus pandemic has been eradicated in the United States. The situation is still far from over, as with many other countries across the globe. But FCA is making several changes in its facilities to ensure the safety of its employees.
Some modifications in line for FCA workers include fresh face masks distributed daily, thermal imaging cameras put in place, and a staggered start as revealed by CEO Mike Manley on a conference call with investors.
Once the workforce is back on the assembly line, the company is setting its sights on producing higher-margin vehicles whose inventories are running low. In recent reports, pickups such as Ram’s full-size and heavy-duty trucks record steady growth in sales despite the lockdowns imposed in several states.
“At the end of April inventory was low,” Manley said, referring to full-size and heavy-duty pickup models. “I can’t remember when it was that low.”
As a result, dealer inventories started to dwindle, with some saying they only had enough for a 30-day supply. This is also considering that automakers have stopped production for two months since March 18.
This is where Manley intends to channel FCA’s focus for the coming weeks or months, particularly in parts of the country where there is a high dealer demand. Moreover, he expects the products to trade at high transaction prices to help offset first-quarter losses.
Based on a report released by Cox Automotive, FCA enjoyed a sales increase and growth in market share in the last quarter, exceeding $40,000 in the average transaction price.
With the upcoming release of the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, FCA is likely to sustain the momentum for the rest of the year or the next few months at least.