Thursday, August 9, 2007

Chrysler Invests Millions In Kenosha Engine Plant

By: Anthony Fontanelle The American car manufacturer Chrysler Group recently announced that they have earmarked a sum of $450 million for the improvement of their engine assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The company announced that the sum will be used to retool the engine plant for the production of fuel-efficient V6 engines.

The improvements to be made at the said engine assembly facility are part of the company’s $3 billion investment on powertrain development. The retooling of the facility is a step to prepare the facility in the production of the company’s new engine known as Phoenix engines. The $3 billion investment also includes the development of the duel-clutch transmission which is a joint venture between Chrysler and German auto parts manufacturer Getrag.

The powertrain offensive initiated by Chrysler will also involve the production of common axle family. These initiatives are part of Chrysler’s commitment to produce fuel-efficient vehicles in the near future.

The Kenosha engine assembly plant is expected to be fully operational by January of 2011. Chrysler projects a production output of 400,000 engines annually for the facility. The powertrain offensive is also a part of Chrysler’s Recovery and Transformation Plan which aims to turn the ailing car manufacturer to profitability by 2008.

“This retooling investment will allow us to build an entirely new, globally competitive family of V-6 engines,” says Richard Chow-Wah, the Chrysler Group Vice President for Powertrain Manufacturing. “The Chrysler Group Recovery and Transformation Plan is focused on new products, and today's news supports a long-term commitment to new vehicle components that support consumer demand for refined, economical-to-operate vehicles for many years to come.”

During the announcement of the retooling of the Kenosha plant, the plant’s manager, Kevin Sell, has this to say: “Chrysler Group has had a 20-year-long presence in Kenosha - and even longer factoring in American Motors' storied past. With this new tooling and this new engine line, we're demonstrating the commitment of Chrysler Group to support economic development and invest in the communities where it does business.”

Also present at the announcement is Wisconsin Governor James Doyle who has this to say about the improvements to be made at the Kenosha plant: “Wisconsin is one of America's leading manufacturing economies. This $450 million commitment by Chrysler to our state demonstrates that we continue to attract important investments that provide high paying jobs for our workforce. This shows what can happen when state and local governments work together to create a business-friendly environment.”

The retooling of the assembly plant will commence in June of 2010. The Kenosha plant produces engine assemblies while other auto parts like brake parts similar to EBC rotors are manufactured by independent auto parts manufacturer.

As for the reaction of the United Auto Workers, UAW Vice President General Holiefield has this to say: “This is an important day for the future of the UAW and Chrysler Group, and in particular for the continued competitiveness of our team here in the State of Wisconsin. We have a vision to see this company and our union grow this business and transform Chrysler Group into a stronger company that will be competitive for the long run. The investment we announce today proves that we are investing in this vision.” According to Chrysler Group, the Kenosha plant will hire 700 full-time employees when it becomes fully operational.

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