Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker planning to merge with Fiat SpA, 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. and Ford Motor Co. 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.