Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chrysler eyes western Ariz. for new car test site

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. -- Chrysler Corp. is eyeing Ford Motor Co.'s longtime desert proving grounds in Mohave County to replace its own test site outside Phoenix and the county has approved an incentive package to entice them to the site.

Mohave County Supervisors approved a $150,000 incentive deal, part of a $500,000 package also involving Kingman, Lake Havasu City and the Arizona Department of Commerce.Ford has occupied the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca for more than 50 years, but announced earlier this year that it was pulling out of the facility to consolidate operations in Michigan.

The timing was apparently perfect for Chrysler, which agreed to sell its longtime proving ground in Wittmann northwest of Phoenix in late 2005 because the land's value had skyrocketed. The automaker leased back the site until mid-2008.David Bailey, senior manager of Chrysler's Wittmann site, said Monday that the facility tests about 2,000 cars a year.

Chrysler looked at expanding its test site in Laredo, Texas, and the Chrysler facility in Chelsea, Mich., but preferred a desert site, Bailey said,"The comparison study is in process right now. Yucca is the preferred location," Bailey said.If Chrysler buys the site, it would bring at least 90 jobs paying an average yearly salary of $76,900. The facility is expected to generate $19 million a year in business in Mohave County. In addition, Chrysler has pledged to invest $10 million in the site.___

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