|9/10/2008, 3:02 p.m. EDT |
By TOM KRISHERThe Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman Jim Press said Wednesday that U.S. automakers have reached the start of a new era in which they can be competitive with foreign brands.
Press told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit that a new union contract that shifts retiree health care costs to a trust and allows lower wages for new hires has helped Chrysler and other automakers become leaner.
He said Chrysler has cut 1 million units of production in the past year to match the U.S. market, which has shrunk amid economic worries and higher gas prices. Chrysler sales are off 24 percent so far this year, while the overall market is down 11 percent.