Chrysler Planning To Build $700 Million Axle Plant Near Detroit

Marysville plant will replace Detroit Axle plant built in 1917; 900 jobs will be created in addition to 1,600 at existing plant.

DETROIT (AP) - DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group plans to build a new $700 million axle plant in southeast Michigan that will create 900 jobs.

It will replace the Detroit Axle plant, which was built in 1917 and now employs more than 1,600.

Official announcement of the new plant, to be built in Marysville just south of Port Huron, will be made Wednesday morning by Chrysler, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich confirmed that the announcement is scheduled but would not give further details. Word of the plant announcement was reported Tuesday by The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

Members of UAW Local 961 at the Detroit Axle plant were voting Tuesday on new work rules that the company says are essential to building the plant, allowing employees to work in teams and do multiple jobs. The rules are similar to those approved by the union before Chrysler built a new four-cylinder engine plant in Dundee.

The Detroit Axle plant makes front- and rear-drive axles for many Chrysler Group truck products as well as trailing axles for Dodge and Chrysler minivans. It also manufactures powertrain components for the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger cars, according to the company's Web site.

Announcement of the new plant comes as Chrysler's German parent continues to talk with potential buyers for its U.S. operations.

Chrysler officials said that despite the sale talks, they must continue to modernize their facilities to become more competitive. The new plant, complete with high-tech robotics, will allow the company to do the same work with far fewer employees.

Chrysler bought the Detroit Axle plant in 1928 and has expanded it at least seven times since the purchase.

Local 961 President Edward May confirmed that the local was voting on the agreement Tuesday but declined to give further details about the new plant. A message was left for a UAW spokesman at its international headquarters.