* Announcement strongly supported by UAW, local government
The manufacturing plants, located in Fenton, Mo., are home to the Dodge Ram (1500 and 2500) Standard and Quad Cab Pickup (North), and the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans (South).
Chrysler Group Executive Vice President -- Manufacturing Frank Ewasyshyn, Director of UAW Region 5 James Wells, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and Fenton Mayor Dennis Hancock made the announcement today at the St. Louis South Assembly Plant.
"This investment clearly represents Chrysler Group's commitment not only to our work force, but also the entire St. Louis regional community," said Ewasyshyn. "The new technologies, process improvements and infrastructure upgrades are evidence of our continuing improvement in the quality of Chrysler and Dodge vehicles and the competitiveness of our plants."
The investment will be shared between the two plants, giving them state- of-the-art manufacturing capabilities.
Currently, the North and South facilities build multiple variations of the Dodge Ram, and Chrysler and Dodge minivans, respectively. Part of this significant capital investment will provide St. Louis South with the capability to manufacture multiple types of vehicles on one line. St. Louis South will be the third Chrysler Group assembly plant to implement a fully robotic body shop, giving it the ability to automatically adjust to build multiple models within cycle time. The investment helps to ensure the future viability of both plants.
"Our St. Louis North and South employees are proud of the quality they put into the Dodge Ram and Chrysler and Dodge minivans," said Wells. "The UAW is very pleased with Chrysler Group's decision to invest in the St. Louis facilities. Working together is key to success for all of us."
Equipment, facility and process changes will begin in 2006 as the plants continue to build Dodge Rams, and Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. The investment also is expected to reduce new- model changeover downtime.
"This investment is extremely good news for our workers and their families, and it reflects on our continued efforts to expand economic opportunities for all Missourians," said Blunt. "I am pleased that Chrysler Group has recognized the importance of Missouri's contributions to the auto industry and the quality of our work force. We look forward to continuing our relationship with our partners at Chrysler Group for many years to come."
Both plants will continue to implement "smart manufacturing" processes, which foster greater creativity and innovation on the plant floor. Smart processes include work teams, self-designed work stations, a framework for flexible job classifications and extensive employee training. All these factors work cohesively to create a better work environment and give increased support to assembly line operators.
"A tremendous amount of our economic strength, our growth and our employment, is and always will be, linked to our manufacturing base which is the foundation of St. Louis County's economic engine," said Dooley. "This entire region succeeds because we are able to forge beneficial partnerships with companies such as Chrysler Group."
"The city of Fenton is proud to be the home of these two Chrysler Group plants and UAW locals 110 and 136," said Mayor Hancock. "We're proud to be part of the effort to keep nearly 6,000 men and women building vehicles in these two plants for the foreseeable future."
The St. Louis South Plant was constructed in 1959. The plant employs 3,200 people. The St. Louis North Assembly Plant was built in 1966 and employs 2,300 people.