DaimlerChrysler will invest up to one billion dollars in its two plants in St. Louis, which produce its Dodge Ram truck and Chrysler and Dodge minivans. The investment is expected in 2006 and will be shared by the two plants, which employ a total of 5,500 workers.
According to Chrysler manufacturing executive Frank 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.”
A large portion of the capital investment will be earmarked to bringing the St. Louis South manufacturing plant the capability of building multiple vehicles on one assembly line. This major investment by the German-US automaker shows the difference between recent moves by US rivals General Motors and Ford, which are closing plants and regrouping.
Prudential Equity Group industry analysts feel DaimlerChrysler’s focus on creating more flexible assembly lines should give them a definite advantage on their rivals over the next two years. In addition, flexibility helps automakers support capacity utilization in spite of varied demand for their different vehicles.