The first European-built Chrysler 300C has rolled off the assembly line as production officially began at Magna Steyr's manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria.

The 300C Sedan and Touring (wagon) models are now assembled on the same production line that builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Voyager and Grand Voyager.

The Touring has essentially the same body as the US market Dodge Magnum but has the 300 sedan's nose, dashboard and interior trim.

Chrysler Group and Magna Steyr invested € 30.7 million ($US37.2 million) to add the necessary tooling and body shop stations required to add the 300C to Austrian production. This is in addition to recent enhancements to the plant's body and paint shops, plus significant production line flexibility improvements that were made with the new vehicles in mind.

Incorporating a third shift, the new Chryslers are built in the same body shop as the Grand Cherokee. All Chrysler vehicles at the plant share the same trim, chassis and final lines. About 2,000 employees work on the American vehicles, 600 of whom were hired additionally for the 300C.

DaimlerChrysler Management Austria (DCMA) worked closely with Magna Steyr to ready the facility for the 300C. Most notably, the addition of the range was already planned for when the plant went through an eight-week tooling, equipment and manufacturing process changeover at the end of 2004 and into 2005.

The body shop was completely rebuilt, and 75% of the conveyor line and marriage system was replaced. As a result, the flexible production line is now equipped to build multiple models, while simultaneously piloting an additional model.

Magna Steyr is assembling various versions of the 300C Sedan and Touring, including left- and right-hand drive versions; rear-wheel and, for the Touring, all-wheel drive versions; a high-performance version - the SRT8; and a Mercedes V6 diesel-powered model that will launch in late 2005.

Magna Steyr is the exclusive production site for right-hand drive models and will be for diesel versions. Chrysler Group vehicles have been built in Graz for the past 15 years, with Chrysler Voyager since 1992 and Jeep Grand Cherokee since 1994. To date, some 850,000 Chrysler and Jeep vehicles have been assembled in Graz.

The 300/300C is also produced at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, alongside the Dodge Magnum and Charger.