DaimlerChrysler Corporation (DCC) will invest $77 million to revitalize and modernize its New Castle Machining Plant, which produces a variety of components used throughout the company's product line. As part of the modernization it will build a new 431,000 sq. foot facility at the site. The company also today announced a $455 million investment in its Indiana Transmission Plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

At a celebration at the plant today, Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon praised DaimlerChrysler for its commitment to the employees at its New Castle facility and for bringing additional investment to the state.

"DaimlerChrysler is a big part of Indiana's rich automotive heritage," said Gov. O'Bannon. "Its decision to build a new facility in Indiana builds on that tradition, and it also paves the way for a bright future in New Castle. This is a great day for the company and the community and especially for the 1,700 employees here."

In addition to the new building, the investment will be used to purchase new, more flexible equipment and tooling that will enable the facility to build a variety of new components to support new product programs. The modernization will also enable the company to re-configure its production line to create more efficient, lean manufacturing processes.

"Today is an important milestone in the long heritage of this historic facility," said Frank Fountain, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. "DaimlerChrysler appreciates both the Governor's and local community's support for our efforts throughout the state of Indiana. The partnership with the City of New Castle, Henry County and the State of Indiana, we can modernize our New Castle facility and ensure a bright future for the men and women of our team."

"The investment in New Castle will give us the flexibility to quickly add new components to support future products for years to come," said Richard Chow-Wah, DCC Vice-President and General Manager -- Component Operations. "The key to being competitive in today's market is the ability to quickly bring new products to our customers. As our assembly plants become more flexible, it's important that our component plants like New Castle can support production. This modernization helps reinforce New Castle's important role in our global manufacturing network."

Company, union and community officials unveiled an architectural rendering of the new facility at the celebration. The 6th Grade Parker Elementary students sang a specially written song for the occasion to the tune of Beauty and the Beast's Be Our Guest ("Be our guest, be our guest, DaimlerChrysler is the best..."). The event also featured a 1911 Maxwell vehicle, which was built at the plant, formerly Maxwell-Briscoe Motors, before Walter P. Chrysler bought it in 1925.

More than 1,700 employees at New Castle Machining build a variety of suspension and steering components for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, including ball joint assemblies, knuckles, transmission components, wheel drive hubs and steering column assemblies.

Built in 1907, Chrysler Corporation purchased the plant in 1925. Since then, the facility has under gone two major expansions -- one in 1965 and the other in 1973.