Chrysler Group is about to re-employ an unspecified number of salaried workers and ask current workers to put in overtime to get new models on sale by mid-2011, sources told a US newspaper.
The Detroit Free Press noted that Chrysler had shed 35,000 jobs in the last two years and had been restructured under government-supervised bankruptcy proceedings leading to a merger with Fiat.
Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne was scheduled to present a five-year plan to the company’s board of directors on Friday, the paper added. If approved, the plan goes to the government’s auto task force by the middle of next week, company insiders said.
Marchionne reportedly wants to update at least five models by mid-2011 including the Chrysler Town & Country [exported as the Grand Voyager] and Dodge Caravan minivans and the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot compact crossovers. Chrysler also will revamp its iconic PT Cruiser first launched as a 2001 model and little changed since then.
The report said Marchionne wants new looks for the Town & Country and Caravan, along with the Caliber, Compass and Patriot in about 18 months – such projects normally take two to three years.
To achieve this, design, engineering and product development staff are expected to work overtime in coming months, and management is preparing to re-hire a number of people who were laid off or accepted buyouts last November and December.
The paper said re-hiring terms are being worked out between the company and the a United Auto Workers union branch representing many of Chrysler’s salaried designers.
Neither company nor union would discuss the matter with the paper, but sources familiar with the talks said one issue is whether some people who were laid off or accepted buyouts late last year could be re-hired as contract workers.
No rehiring is expected until the board of directors signs off on the product plan, the Detroit Free Press said.
The replacement for the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger reportedly will have a Fiat platform but a clear Chrysler exterior style.
Both currently are exported with left and right hand drive. The Avenger has been heavily discounted here in the UK in recent months. At one point a broker was offering brand-new, fully equipped, top line models with navigation and automatic transmission at two-for-GBP20,000 (US$32,500).