CANADA: DaimlerChrysler Corporation Announces $1 Billion US ($1.5 Billion CDN) Investment in Pillette Assembly Plant
During groundbreaking ceremonies today, DaimlerChrysler Corporation confirmed an approximately $1 billion US ($1.5 CDN) investment for the modernization and expansion of its Pillette Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The announcement coincides with DaimlerChrysler Canada's 75th anniversary and Pillette Assembly's 25th anniversary.
Ground was broken for an estimated two million square-foot building, more than tripling the present 980,000 square-foot facility. The expansion includes the previously announced all-new $370 million (US) paint shop which will feature new manufacturing processes designed to improve flexibility, productivity and quality. The plant is expected to be completed by mid-2002.
"This investment clearly represents DaimlerChrysler's commitment not only to our Canadian workforce, but to our aggressive product development plan," said Jim Holden, President - DaimlerChrysler Corporation. "We're very excited about the opportunity this provides consumers, our dealers and the Pillette employees."
This announcement is the next step in DaimlerChrysler Corporation's focus on flexible manufacturing initiatives.
"This expansion affords DaimlerChrysler a new level of flexibility at Pillette," said Gary L. Henson, Executive Vice President - Manufacturing, DaimlerChrysler Corporation. "With these improvements, we not only speed up model changeover time but have the ability to consider multiple products at the same facility should the need ever arise."
Pillette Assembly is the latest facility to increase the flexibility of its manufacturing operations following Toluca (Mexico) Assembly Plant, Windsor (Canada) Assembly Plant and Sterling Heights (Michigan, USA) Assembly Plant.
It was also announced that production of the Dodge Ram Van and Wagon will end at the Pillette facility at the conclusion of the 2002 model year. Following a short period of downtime for model changeover, production will begin in the summer of 2002 of a future all-new Dodge product. Details on the product were not given at this time.
"The Dodge Ram Van and Wagon have proven to be among the most versatile and economical in the full-size van and wagon segment for a long time," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Division. "However, we have identified an exciting product opportunity that makes more efficient use of the expanded Pillette facility and will allow us to more effectively grow the Dodge brand."
"Decisions like this are made on the basis of sound business analysis and solid economic facts," said Americus Crawford, Plant Manager, Pillette Assembly Plant. "In addition, the new technologies, process improvements and infrastructure upgrades are evidence of our continuing effort to improve the quality and competitiveness of the Pillette Assembly Plant, while providing secure employment for our Pillette employees."
"Today's announcement greatly contributes to the job security of CAW Local 444's membership and is further evidence of the solid relationship in place between DaimlerChrysler and the Union," said National CAW President Buzz Hargrove.
DaimlerChrysler Canada Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Brust added, "This significant investment in the future of Pillette and its employees demonstrates DaimlerChrysler's commitment to flexible manufacturing allowing us to bring to market industry-leading products."
The Pillette Assembly Plant opened in 1975 and has produced the Dodge Ram Vans and Wagons since its inception. The plant currently employs 2,175 workers and produces 424 units per day on two shifts. Over 2.1 million vehicles have been built at Pillette since 1975. For the 1999 model year, 72,482 Dodge Ram Vans and Wagons were built at Pillette.