Chrysler Group has officially opened a second world engine plant in Dundee, Michigan.

The two plants - GEMA North and GEMA South - are part of a five-factory global venture building a family of 1.8-, two- and 2.4-litre engines jointly developed by DaimlerChrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi. When all five plants are fully operational, the combined project will be the largest engine manufacturing operation in the world.  Annual production will reach 1.8m units, including production sites in Asan and Hwasung, South Korea, and Shiga, Japan.

GEMA is a new business model for engine development - one that leverages the combined capabilities of its partners and economies of scale in order to generate breakthrough improvement.

The partners say the significant savings achieved in design, purchasing and manufacturing are going back into the product itself in the form of technology and refinement. Features such as variable valve timing, high-pressure die-cast aluminium engine block, forged-steel crankshaft and select-fit pistons, tappets and bearings are not typically found in entry-level, four-cylinder vehicles, they claim.

GEMA president Bruce Coventry credits the alliance's practice of focusing exclusively on its core business as a key element in GEMA's efficient operation.

"Our expertise and value to the customer is in the designing, high-precision machining and assembling of engine blocks, cranks and heads," Coventry said. "This project will allow DaimlerChrysler to realize annual savings of $US100m and attain a leading position in the market for the world's best four-cylinder engines. The Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance enables us to fully benefit from our strategic partnerships and achieve maximum economies of scale."

Ground-breaking for the combined 1.2m square foot, co-located plants began in April 2003.

At full volume, the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance is expected to employ between 500 and 600, including hourly, salary and partner employees. Hiring will continue for the next 14 months.