Monday, September 3, 2007

Cerberus OKs nine Chrysler projects

David Barkholz
Automotive News TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. --Expect the new owners of Chrysler LLC to move fast in all aspects of the business, says Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development.

Speaking at the conference here today, Klegon said Cerberus Capital Management LP gave the go-ahead to nine major projects developing at Chrysler within 36 hours of agreeing to buy the automaker.

Cerberus also wasted no time bringing aboard new CEO Bob Nardelli, who doubled the size of Home Depot Inc. as its CEO and was a star at GE Power Systems.

“As a private company, we’re able to make decisions more quickly and thus move faster to respond to the market,” Klegon said.

About $3 billion was approved for new engine and drivetrain plants to offer products that will improve performance and fuel economy, Klegon said.

Chrysler has broken ground on three engine plants for a new family of V6 engines that will provide a 6-8 percent gain in fuel efficiency, he said. The engine is designed with Chrysler’s patented multi-displacement system, which operates the engine on three cylinders when less power is needed and all six when more power is required, he said.

A new dual clutch transmission developed with Getrag will hit the road in 2010 model-year vehicles that will offer fuel-economy improvements of up to 6 percent. Chrysler has broken ground on that new transmission plant in Kokomo, Ind., and an axle plant in Marysville, Mich., that uses Mercedes axle technology for a 5 percent efficiency gain, he said.

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