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June 5, 2007

Michigan, Mexico to become home to future Chrysler Phoenix Powerplants
by Justin Pritchard,

Chrysler will use cutting edge powerplants as a major part of their "Recovery and Transformation" plan. The automaker has just invested $730 million dollars in Trenton, Michigan for a new engine plant which will go into production in 2009. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site last week.

The new plant will be located adjacent to the existing Trenton Engine Plant, between Fort Street and Jefferson. The 822,000-square-foot facility will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 400,000 to 440,000 engines, and once fully operational will employ 485 full-time workers.

A new family of fuel-efficient V6 engines known within the group as Phoenix powerplants, will be produced there. Over the long term, the Phoenix family of V-6 engines will reduce manufacturing complexity by paring the company's four current V-6 engine architectures to one. The new engines are part of a $3 billion "Powertrain Offensive" announced by the carmaker in February. It focuses on creating more fuel-efficient engines, transmissions and axles to support some 20 new vehicles to be launched in the next three years.

On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony were Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, and Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown. UAW Vice President General Holiefield was also present, and told the media "We appreciate the confidence Chrysler Group has shown in its workforce by this continuing investment in powertrain operations, which will help preserve good-paying manufacturing jobs. UAW members at Trenton are 100 percent dedicated to quality, and we're excited to participate in building the next generation of fuel-efficient engines for Chrysler's great lineup of vehicles."

The new fuel-efficient engines will be built using several "smart" manufacturing technologies including flexible CNC-based machining, volume-bundled purchasing and standardized tooling.

"These engine plants help cement Michigan's position as the world's leader in automotive innovation and excellence and show what can happen when state and local governments work with business to make our state competitive," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. "From investing in our workers to creating a business-friendly climate throughout the state, we are working every day to attract new automotive companies and other industries that will bring jobs and grow here in Michigan."

But it isn't just Michigan that will get a new Chrysler engine plant, as the automaker has also announced plans for a second Phoenix engine plant to be operational in Saltillo Mexico in 2009. The new plant would be situated near the existing assembly operation which builds the Dodge Ram. Upon coming online, the Saltillo plant, like the Trenton plant, will employ about 485 full-time workers and have a capacity of about 440,000 engines per year.

Roberto Gutiérrez, Chrysler Group Mexico's VP of Manufacturing, says "The automotive products that we produce in Saltillo are internationally recognized for their high quality due to several factors, the most important being our workforce. We are very proud of the union and the support of our workers, many of whom were born and raised in this area."

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