Chrysler Group and the United Auto Workers (UAW) today announced a third shift of production at the company’s Warren truck assembly plant, eventually adding 1,000 jobs.

The plant builds Dodge Ram and Dakota pickup trucks and the additional production is expected on-stream next summer.

Chrysler will invest approximately $35 million to increase the plant’s capacity by 21%, or 60,000 units annually, to a total of approximately 338,000 units a year.

“We looked at a number of ways to increase production to meet…demand, and one plan made the most sense — adding another shift of production, a spokesman said.”

Dodge pickup trucks have enjoyed good reviews in the US consumer press lately and Chrysler claims 33,924 Ram trucks were sold in September, an increase of 82% compared to September 2001, when sales were affected by the air attacks on the 11th.

A more realistic comparison is third quarter when 2002 Ram sales were up 26% compared with 2001.

Chrysler also said the Ram 1500 Quad Cab ranked first in owner satisfaction among all four-door pickup trucks in AutoPacific Inc.’s 2002 vehicle satisfaction score study.

Dodge’s analysis of the full-size and compact truck segments forecasts continued strong demand for pickup trucks, which has led to the plans for increased production.

“We’re anticipating the need for an additional 60,000 units per year,” another spokesman said. “Our plan to add capacity…will not only help provide those additional units, but will also give us a bonus in added flexibility in production.”

Warren would have the capability to build short-wheelbase and light-duty models for Mexico, for example.