Chrysler Group LLC Celebrates Production Launch of the New 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country at Windsor (Canada) Assembly Plant

  • Chrysler invests $1.4 billion USD since 2008 to prepare for launch of new minivans
  • Windsor Assembly Plant production grows 62 percent in 2010
  • Significant launches and investments in 2010 set foundation for Chrysler Group in 2011
  • Chrysler Canada ends 2010 on a high note
  • Canadian minivan sales increase 37 percent
  • Plant embraces World Class Manufacturing (WCM)
January 17, 2011 , Windsor, Ontario -  Joined by Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, government officials and CAW leadership, employees at the Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) today celebrated the launch of production of the new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. The vehicles are two of the 16 new or significantly refreshed products the Company debuted last year.

Marchionne and Chrysler Canada President and CEO Reid Bigland, along with Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello, Ontario Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, CAW President Ken Lewenza and other local officials, recognized the importance of the plant, the workforce and the new minivans to the future success of the Company during a ceremony at the plant.

“The new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country remain key parts of our revival plan,” Marchionne told more than 1,200 employees in the audience. “Our collective future is dependent on the success of this plant and these vehicles. We’re in this battle together. We must continue to put our trust in each other and make a true, full-faith effort to work together.”

Marchionne also reminded employees that it was with the assistance of the federal government of Canada and the Province of Ontario that Chrysler has been given an opportunity to create a future.

“Chrysler Group owes a deep debt of gratitude to taxpayers in Canada and the U.S. for the loans that enabled a re-energized, restructured company to emerge in June 2009,” said Marchionne. “We recognize we have a moral responsibility to fulfill our promises, justify these investments and pay back every penny that was loaned to us.”

In preparation for the launch of the new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, the Company has invested more than $1.4 billion USD since 2008 for assembly, stamping, material handling and tooling as well as improvements to the Windsor paint shop. Windsor is currently the only Chrysler Group assembly plant that operates on three shifts with more than 4,400 employees.

"This is a proud day for Chrysler Group and the CAW as it launches two new minivans, thereby preserving good manufacturing jobs in Canada,” said Lewenza. “Our commitment and effort over more than 25 years have played an important role in the success of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country.”

Since June 2009, Chrysler Group has made significant progress toward building a successful enterprise, including:

  • reporting an operating profit of $565 million USD for the first three quarters of 2010;
  • reporting the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases in the U.S. in December;
  • investing nearly $1.2 billion USD into the Company’s existing transmission manufacturing facilities in Kokomo, Ind., to accommodate production of a new advanced front-wheel drive automatic transmission; increase capacity and support production of the World Engine and improve processes for the 62TE transmission program; and accommodate future production of a new highly fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission;
  • announcing a $600 million USD investment in its Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly plant;
  • confirming an investment of $850 million USD in its Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant and surrounding stamping facilities;
  • planning an investment of $150 million USD in its GEMA (Dundee, Mich.) facility;
  • announcing an investment of $27.2 million USD in its Etobicoke Casting Plant (Toronto) to produce front and rear crossmembers for future Chrysler vehicles starting in the third quarter 2011;
  • adding a second shift of production – or nearly 1,100 jobs – at its Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant;
  • announcing that it would add nearly 900 jobs on a second shift at its Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant in the first quarter of 2011;
  • launching the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee in May;
  • launching production of the all-new 2011 Dodge Durango, Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger in December 2010, and the 2011 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger in January;
  • announcing that it will invest $179 million USD to launch production of the 1.4-litre, 16-valve Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE) at the company’s Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant in Dundee, Mich., creating more than 150 new Chrysler jobs.

Chrysler Canada Ends 2010 on a High Note
Chrysler Canada has played a vital role in helping the Company meet the goals outlined in November 2009. As it begins its 86th year, Chrysler Canada reported a sales increase of 26 percent in 2010, achieving the highest year-over-year sales growth in Chrysler Canada history and its thirteenth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. As a result, Chrysler Canada gained two percentage points of share – more than any other manufacturer – increasing its market share to 13 percent. Annual sales records were reported for the Dodge Grand Caravan and Ram pickup truck with the Dodge Journey being Canada's best-selling crossover.

Additionally, the Dodge Grand Caravan was one of the country’s Top Five best selling vehicles. Altogether, Chrysler’s minivan sales in Canada grew by 37 percent in 2010. In fact, Chrysler Canada claimed 74 percent of the Canadian minivan market.

Production at the Windsor Assembly Plant also rose 62 percent last year and overall, Chrysler’s Canadian production rose 51 percent, making it the number two manufacturer in the country in 2010.

World Class Manufacturing (WCM) Achieves Results in Windsor
In preparation for the launch of the new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, employees at WAP began transforming the facility as part of WCM, an extensive and thorough process to restore all facilities to their original and maximum functionality.

The rollout of WCM began with putting more than 4,400 employees through over 30,000 hours of training focused on the principles of WCM and how to identify and attack waste and losses on the line. As a result, employees have become more engaged with their work and submitted more than 30,000 suggestions on how to improve the processes at the plant. In fact, more than 3,000 employees at WAP have been involved in suggestions and continuous improvement activities in 2010.

Additionally, WCM has helped eliminate unsafe conditions, with a 52 percent reduction in injury frequencies.

Another area of significant improvement has been the area of autonomous maintenance. Workers take responsibility for cleaning and inspection of equipment in order to eliminate breakdowns. In the body shop, this has resulted in running over one year without a breakdown due to lack of basic conditions.

In the paint shop, employees restored the 12-year-old robotic sealer application equipment to its original condition. The team then benchmarked an idea from Fiat to incorporate clear plastic coverings to catch small sealer drips to prevent the critical parts of the equipment from getting dirty and thereby, avoiding future breakdowns.

In total, the implementation of WCM resulted in plant savings of more than $46 million CDN in 2010.

Chrysler Invents the Minivan Market
Chrysler invented the modern minivan in 1983 with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. The first luxury minivan, the Chrysler Town & Country, debuted in 1989. Seventy-five minivan-first innovations and 13 million minivan sales later, the company still leads the way with the best, most innovative vehicle to move people and things.

About the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country both benefit from the all-new 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 engine, which provides best-in-class horsepower and more torque, with up to 2 miles per gallon improved fuel economy (36 MPG Highway / 7.9L/100km). Both feature a new fuel-economizer mode that helps maximize fuel efficiency.

Safety continues to be a top priority with more than 40 safety features including a new driver-side knee blocker airbag, front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic stability control and tire pressure monitoring.

The newest innovation featured in the 2011 Grand Caravan and Town & Country is the new industry-exclusive Super Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system, with larger, more comfortable seats and with a new, easy to use one-touch fold down function.

Another new feature is the Stow ‘n’ Place™ roof rack system that lets owners stow the roof bows in the side rails when they’re not using them and snap them easily into place when needed. This stow-ability results in less aerodynamic drag and wind buffeting, and improved overall efficiency. These newest models also offer a minivan-first heated steering wheel.

The Dodge Grand Caravan, the best-selling minivan for 27 consecutive years in Canada, builds upon its leadership position for 2011. It includes an all-new interior, improved ride and handling, improved safety, new added value and enhanced versatility to make it the best Grand Caravan ever.

Owners will step inside to an all-new world-class interior for 2011, where premium soft-touch materials are abundant. A modern, new one-piece instrument panel offers customers improved ergonomics and larger, redesigned gauges. An available new “super” centre console provides clever functionality and storage for the active commuter, as well easy driver/passenger access with a pass-through storage space for larger items, like a purse. A minivan-first heated steering wheel option and the best storage in the segment round out the improved interior.

The Chrysler Town & Country minivan has been completely refreshed for 2011 with a sleek, elegant exterior design. The new “face of Chrysler” starts with a new front fascia and grille inspired by the all-new 300 and shared across all the new Chrysler brand vehicles. The Town & Country also is the first vehicle to wear the new Chrysler brand winged badge. A new hood, and projector-style front fog lamps round out the exterior upgrades to the front, setting the expectation of elegance when a customer first spots the vehicle. Also new for 2011 is the rear liftgate with curved back glass, body-color rear spoiler, fascia and liftgate scuff pad with bright stripe, rear light bar and new LED taillamps. A chrome molding that runs across the entire length of the vehicle connects to the bodyside molding to pull the whole package together.

The new world-class interior of the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan is beautifully crafted with high-quality materials that are soft to the touch, and offers tech-savvy entertainment features and smart storage and seating options, including the new, more comfortable Super Stow ‘n Go® seating with one-touch fold-down function.

The Uconnect system offers touch-screen and voice command for convenient control of multiple media sources, navigation and hands-free phone. Segment exclusive dual DVD entertainment and SIRIUS® satellite radio help make this the ultimate luxury family vehicle.

About the Windsor Assembly Plant
The Windsor Assembly Plant was built in 1928. In 1939, a special Chrysler royal convertible sedan was built for the 1939 Royal Tour and thousands were shipped overseas. From 1925-1965, vehicles produced at the plant included Plymouth two- and four -door sedans, Dodge hardtops, DeSoto convertibles, Chrysler station wagons and club coupes. Production of the Plymouth Valiant began in 1966 and concluded in 1975. Production of the Chrysler Cordoba and Dodge Charger SE began in 1981. Production of minivans began in 1983. The 2005 Chrysler and Dodge minivans with Stow 'n Go® seating and storage system launched production in January 2004, with Swivel 'n Go coming on board in 2007. Chrysler Group celebrated the 12 millionth minivan sold in 2007. Production of the Volkswagen Routan began in August 2008. Chrysler Group recognized 25 years of minivan leadership in 2008. The 13 millionth minivan was sold in August 2010. The plant is currently the only plant to operate on three shifts with more than 4,400 employees.

About Chrysler Canada
Founded as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925, Chrysler Canada Inc. is based in Windsor, Ontario, and celebrates its 86th anniversary in 2011. Chrysler Canada's product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Dodge Grand Caravan, Jeep® Wrangler, Chrysler 300 and Ram trucks.

Chrysler Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chrysler Group LLC, one of the world's leading automotive companies. Chrysler Group LLC, formed in 2009 from a global strategic alliance with Fiat Group, produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and Mopar® vehicles and products. With the resources, technology and worldwide distribution network required to compete on a global scale, the alliance builds on Chrysler’s culture of innovation – first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925 – and Fiat’s complementary technology – from a company whose heritage dates back to 1899. Fiat will contribute world-class technology, platforms and powertrains for small- and medium-sized cars, allowing Chrysler Group to offer an expanded product line including environmentally friendly vehicles.

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