US: Production of 2007 Chrysler Sebring starts

By just-auto.com editorial team | 15 September 2006

The Chrysler Group has officially launched production of the all-new 2007 Chrysler Sebring Sedan at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) that formerly produced the Sebring, Sebring Convertible and Dodge Stratus Sedan.

The Chrysler Sebring Sedan represents Chrysler Group's expanding Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS) allowing the Company to bring its new vehicles to market more quickly and the assembly plants the ability to manufacture multiple products on one assembly line.

The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant was extensively retooled to manage the complexity of building multiple models on one production line. The Chrysler Sebring program investment of US$500m included multiple plant upgrades, improving quality, productivity and worker ergonomics. SHAP is now able to vary production mix between three products anywhere from 0 to 100 percent of each model and pilot a fourth.

"Since its rollout in 2000, Chrysler Group's Flexible Manufacturing Strategy has been the benchmark within our company," said Fred Goedtel, Vice President - Small/Premium/Family Vehicle Assembly.

"Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and Sterling Stamping along with our Belvidere Assembly Plant, are the pioneers of this strategy ultimately allowing the company to bring the right products to the market at the right time."

US$278m was invested at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to overhaul the body shop and improve the paint shop and assembly areas, including new tooling and about 620 new welding and material handling robots.

Further, the plant has the capability to build multiple upper bodies and multiple car platforms, which will allow for the flexibility to add new models or "cross- load" models from other plants in order to better meet the dynamics of the market. The plant has the ability to also produce the Dodge Caliber should market demand lead to that in the future.

Another US$228 million investment improved stamping operations at Sterling Stamping Plant. Sterling Stamping replaced 50 material handling and weld robots and introduced new state-of-the-art processes and capabilities, such as new lean die standards and Common System Architecture (CSA) lines. New lean die standards will reap a 45 percent cost savings over current standards and processes, Chrysler says.

The 2007 Chrysler Sebring will be available in U.S. dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2006 and in global volume markets in the first half of 2007.