Chrysler has announced plans to bolster Ram output by adding a third shift at the automaker's Dodge City truck factory in Warren, people familiar with the plan said. It will be Chrysler's first major capacity expansion and work force boost since the DaimlerChrysler AG unit said early last year that it would close six plants and cut 26,000 jobs to restore profits. Analysts said the move will likely add about 60,000 vehicles and 900 jobs in Warren. The plant employs about 3,700 workers on two shifts and produces about 243,000 trucks a year, including about 160,000 Dodge Dakota pick-ups. The new shift should be operating by mid-2003. Chrysler also builds the Ram pickup in St. Louis and Saltillo, Mexico, but no production changes are expected at either location. Ram is Chrysler's best-selling vehicle, with demand up 82 percent in September, and 18 percent for the year while industry sales are up just 1 percent in 2002. The truck was redesigned last year, but sales got off to a slow start because the introduction coincided with the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials