Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker planning to merge with Fiat SpA (F), will add 1,250 workers at three U.S. plants to boost output of pickups and engines.
Chrysler plans to invest $238 million in the factories, including the Ram 1500 assembly plant in Warren, Michigan, according to a statement. The Warren factory will add a third crew of workers and 1,000 new jobs, the company said yesterday.
“All of these investments are the direct result of a lot of people who have battled courageously to bring Chrysler back to a state of growth,” Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and Fiat, said in the statement.
Chrysler introduced a redesigned Ram 1500 pickup in September to help maintain U.S. sales growth that has outpaced larger U.S. competitors General Motors Co. (GM:US) and Ford Motor Co. (F:US) The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker delivered almost 1.38 million cars and light trucks this year through October, a 23 percent increase. Gains of 3.6 percent by GM and 4.9 percent by Ford trailed the industry’s 14 percent increase.
Marchionne, 60, plans to merge Chrysler with Turin, Italy- based Fiat by 2015. The ability for Fiat, which owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler, to buy the rest is limited by a turnaround plan that Italy’s largest manufacturer announced last month, Marchionne said at the time.
Chrysler will invest $198 million in its Mack I Engine plant in Detroit to add production of six-cylinder engines and as many as 250 jobs. Another $40 million will be invested in the Trenton North engine factory in Trenton, Michigan.
“Our biggest headache this year has been the shortage of 3.6-liter engines,” Marchionne told reporters in Detroit yesterday, referring to the six-cylinder Pentastar. “We just can’t make enough. I’m not sure that this expansion by itself is going to take us where we need to be.”
The Mack I plant currently builds larger eight-cylinder engines for the Ram 1500. That engine will be phased out in 2013’s first quarter, and Chrysler will begin producing the Pentastar six-cylinder there in early 2014.
The Trenton plant’s flexible line will give Chrysler the ability to adjust for building either the Pentastar V-6 or its four-cylinder Tigershark engine. Chrysler’s factory in Dundee, Michigan, is currently its only U.S. plant building four- cylinder engines.
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