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

Chrysler and Dodge Minivan Manufacturing To Windsor and St. Louis

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Chrysler Town and Country

* Investments enhance manufacturing flexibility at Windsor and St. Louis Assembly Plants

* Workplace organizational model promotes creativity on plant floor

* Five models, three distinct seating and storage systems and three powertrains - including a minivan-first six-speed transaxle - offer the right ingredients for active lifestyles

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Jan 7 -- The Chrysler Group today announced that the all-new 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit will be built at DaimlerChrysler's Windsor (Ontario) Assembly Plant and St. Louis South Assembly Plant located in Fenton, Mo.

"These are very important products for the Chrysler Group as we remain committed to the minivan market and maintain our leadership position," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President -- Manufacturing, Chrysler Group. "Our focus on flexible manufacturing and new investments, adding state-of-the art technology to plant operations, will help us ensure we can meet those demands and build almost anything, anywhere, with improving speed and quality."

The ability to produce several vehicles under the same roof allows the Chrysler Group to save millions of investment dollars and bring a vehicle to market faster, with even higher quality levels and minimal downtime.

Windsor Assembly Plant

Windsor Assembly, which currently manufactures the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans with the Stow 'n Go(R) seating and storage system, along with the Chrysler Pacifica, is capable of building two different vehicle platforms and piloting a third simultaneously on the same production line. A $508 million investment to the Windsor Assembly has produced a new, state-of-the-art paint facility capable of accommodating the dimensions of at least 11 different body styles, and is scheduled to be operational first quarter of 2007.

The key to flexible manufacturing process is the order in which the body is assembled, using a unique underbody pallet system in the body shop. The same flexible pallet system has also been used at the company's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan where Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger will be manufactured, as well as the Toledo North Assembly Plant in Ohio, where Jeep(R) Liberty and Dodge Nitro are produced. This means that the same production system may be used to build sedans, convertibles, minivans, sport- utility vehicles and sports tourers.

Recent agreements with UAW-represented employees have also cleared the way for new operating principles. The pacts are designed to foster greater creativity and innovation on the plant floor. They allow for work teams, self- designed work stations, a framework for flexible job classifications and extensive employee training. These elements will help provide a better, safer work environment and further support assembly line operators.

Originally built in 1928, today the Windsor Assembly Plant is the largest of the Chrysler Group's 14 assembly plants at 4.01 million square feet. In 2003 Windsor Assembly became one of the first Chrysler Group plants to implement the flexible manufacturing strategy. This year marks the plant's 24th anniversary of minivan production and the 14th anniversary of three shifts of operation. The plant employs 4800 people.

St. Louis South Assembly Plant

In 2005 DaimlerChrysler announced it would invest up to $1 billion in its two St. Louis-area manufacturing facilities. The manufacturing plants, located in Fenton, Mo., are home to the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans (South) and Dodge Ram (1500 and 2500) Standard and Quad Cab Pickup (North). Part of this significant capital investment will provide St. Louis South with the capability to manufacture multiple types of vehicles on one line. St. Louis South will be the third Chrysler Group assembly plant to implement a fully robotic body shop, giving it the ability to automatically adjust to build multiple models within cycle time.

Equipment, facility and process changes began in 2006 as the plants continue to build Chrysler and Dodge minivans. The investment also is expected to reduce new-model changeover downtime.

The 2.64 million square-feet St. Louis South Plant was constructed in 1959. The plant employs 3,200 people.

The Right Ingredients

The all-new 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans once again prove they have the right ingredients to be the best vehicles to move people and cargo. With 35 new and improved features, the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country aren't just practical vehicles, they also have the right mix to be "family rooms on wheels," with something for everyone to enjoy.

The newest ingredient for functional family seating is the all-new Swivel 'n Go(TM) seating system. Swivel 'n Go offers second row seats that swivel 180 degrees to face the third row with a removable table that installs between the two rows, covered storage bins in the floor of the second row, third-row uncovered storage and fold-in-the-floor third-row seating. Swivel 'n Go also offers an available industry-first integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and an available minivan-exclusive one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat.

The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are expected to be in dealerships in the United States in the fall of 2007.