Chrysler group president and CEO Dieter Zetsche kicked off the 2003 motor show season by announcing that Chrysler Group, Hyundai Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation will jointly operate the North American production facility that will produce a co-developed so-called ‘world engine’.

In a speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Zetsche said that the three car makers have signed a memorandum of understanding, which leads to that unique arrangement. “The North American plant will be co-managed by executives from all three partner companies, with Chrysler Group in the lead,” Zetsche said.

The plant will be “a wellspring of innovation, and a true melting pot of cultures,” he added, using best practice manufacturing processes, automation and techniques that make the most of each company’s strengths.

DaimlerChrysler announced in May 2002 that the three companies had entered into a joint venture to design, develop and engineer a family of four cylinder engines under the formation of a separate company, titled “Global Engine Alliance, LLC.”

The world engine will be manufactured in production facilities located in Korea, Japan and the United States. Prior to this announcement, it was expected that all production facilities would be individually managed.

Zetsche’s announcement affects only the US facility.

“All three companies bring a special emphasis from their respective production systems to the world engine project,” said Zetsche. “In a method we call ‘cross-functional team participation,’ each of the partner companies will take the lead in a specific area for the plant development plan and implementation, including plant layout, production processes and workforce strategy.”

A decision on the US facility’s location and its ground breaking is expected sometime this quarter. Production will begin in 2005.

Hyundai will be the first global engine alliance partner to manufacture the engine, which will begin production in 2004 at a yet-to-be-determined plant in Korea.

Total annual world engine production is estimated at over 1.5 million units. Once up and running, this joint venture could become the highest volume engine family in the world.