The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Chrysler Group Launches Production of New Jeep(R) Grand Cherokee at Magna Steyr in Austria

- Gasoline and diesel Jeep models will be produced for Europe and other world markets - $27.6 million (euro 23 million) investment adds greater flexibility to Graz production line

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 7 -- Today the first all-new Jeep(R) Grand Cherokee rolled off the line as production officially began at the Magna Steyr manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria.

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group and Magna Steyr made a $27.6 million (euro 23 million) capital investment in the reconstruction of the plant's body and paint shops, in addition to significant production line flexibility improvements. About 1,200 employees have been trained to work with the new equipment and new processes, ensuring a smooth transition and consistent production quality. These combined enhancements make the plant well prepared to accommodate Jeep Grand Cherokee production for Europe and other world markets.

"The launch of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is evidence of the vehicle's success in Europe and around the world, especially where modern diesel engine technology plays a crucial role," said Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche. "This is the most refined Jeep Grand Cherokee we've ever built, and its on-road manners achieve luxury car standards."

Jeep Grand Cherokee is the flagship of the Jeep brand worldwide. The new Grand Cherokee continues a tradition of Jeep innovation with state-of-the-art technology, sophisticated design and the latest in on-road refinement and off- road capability.

In Europe and other markets outside of North America, the Jeep Grand Cherokee will offer a new diesel engine and two gasoline powerplants. The all-new 3.0-liter V-6 common-rail diesel engine is based on the latest Mercedes-Benz technology and offers outstanding performance along with the refinement and efficiency international buyers are looking for.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee will also offer, for the first time on a Jeep vehicle, the 5.7-liter HEMI(R) engine with Multi-Displacement System (MDS) for improved fuel economy. The proven 4.7-liter V-8 engine will continue to be available as well.

Flexible Production with Well-trained Workforce

DaimlerChrysler Management Austria -- Chrysler Group's contract management team for Graz production -- worked closely with Magna Steyr in the preparation of their facility for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. The plant went through an eight-week tooling, equipment and manufacturing process changeover at the end of 2004 and into 2005.

The body shop was completely rebuilt, and 75 percent of the conveyor line and marriage system was replaced. As a result, the flexible production line is now equipped to build multiple Chrysler Group models, while simultaneously piloting an additional model.

"This allows the plant to introduce new vehicles without disrupting the production of current models. Even with the addition of many new high-tech product features on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, our employees continue to build in consistent quality with each vehicle that rolls off the line," said Manfred Remmel, President and CEO of Magna Steyr.

Nearly 1,200 plant employees were trained in preparation for the new vehicle production. A staggered training strategy ensures high quality levels from the start. This approach included early process training with plant employees at the Chrysler Group's Plymouth Road Jeep and truck engineering facility in Detroit as well as extensive training at Magna Steyr.

Magna Steyr is the exclusive production site for Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel-engined and right-hand-drive models. The facility has produced the Grand Cherokee since 1994 and since that time has produced almost 300,000 units. Magna Steyr also produces the Chrysler Voyager, Chrysler Grand Voyager with the exclusive Stow 'n Go(TM) seating and storage system and, starting the second quarter of 2005, the Chrysler 300C Sedan and Touring lineup with diesel and gasoline engines.

Jeep Grand Cherokee is also produced at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.