A day after breaking ground for a new axle plant in Marysville, Michigan, Chrysler did the same thing at Trenton in the same state for its new Phoenix engine plant.

Scheduled to begin production in 2009, the $US730m investment will produce a new family of fuel-efficient V6 engines, known inside the group as the Phoenix engines.

The new plant is part of the company’s $3bn ‘powertrain offensive’ announced in February.

Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler group executive vice president – manufacturing, said: “This new plant will enable us to develop products that are designed to meet changing consumer tastes for more fuel efficient vehicles.”

The Phoenix plant will be situated adjacent to the existing Trenton engine plant and the 822,000-square-foot facility will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 400,000 to 440,000 engines.

Once fully operational, it will employ 485 full-time workers.

The plant will have a competitive labour agreement that incorporates smart manufacturing initiatives and flexible CNC-based machining, volume-bundled parts purchasing, volume-bundled capital investment and standardised tooling.

Over the long term, the Phoenix family of V6 engines will reduce manufacturing complexity by paring the company’s four current V6 engine architectures to one.