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Chrysler May Boost 300 and Magnum Production

September 21, 2004

Chrysler may boost production of its hot-selling Chrysler 300 sedan and Dodge Magnum wagon by adding a third shift at the Brampton, Ontario, plant where the cars are built, or by transferring some volume to a U.S. plant, according to the Detroit News on September 15. The possibility of adding a third shift is still in the early phases of that evaluation, which includes the need for sustainable market demand. Chrysler officials will meet with the Canadian Auto Workers union to discuss a third shift in Brampton, which could add up to 1,000 jobs and boost annual output to 330,000 vehicles. But in a letter sent to the CAW and obtained by The Detroit News, Chrysler said that without productivity improvements and financial help from the Canadian government, the work could go elsewhere. "There is one plant in the U.S. they're looking at," CAW President Buzz Hargrove said Monday. Analysts say Chrysler's Newark, Del., factory, which makes the Dodge Durango sport/utility vehicle, would be the most likely U.S. site because it is under-used and set up to build rear-wheel-drive vehicles. The 300 and Magnum are rear-drive. The manufacturer has been working with the union to find alternative ways to maximize production capability at Brampton Assembly. To date, Chrysler has implemented extended production hours by working weekends and paid holidays, when appropriate. A nine-hour workday was also implemented on August 9. Customer demand continues to be monitored weekly to determine the manufacturer’s overtime schedule at the plant. The recent model launch at Warren Truck was successful after adding a third shift, which included detailed preparation, thorough training, and employee involvement in implementing a back-to-back schedule. Chrysler needs more capacity as it plans to build a 300 wagon and right-hand drive models for Europe, as well as the Dodge Charger sedan, all beginning next year. Chrysler is also working on other possible alternatives involving manufacturing efficiencies, such as increasing jobs per hour, first-time capability, etc.
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