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

Chrysler PT Cruiser Production Reaches Full Speed to Meet Worldwide Demand

30 June 2000

Chrysler PT Cruiser Production Reaches Full Speed Early And Gains More Units to Meet Worldwide Demand

Toluca Assembly Plant achieves maximum daily rate of 40 vehicle per hour
ahead of schedule, without loss of vehicles, resulting in 4,000 gained units;
Quality indicators are a new launch benchmark for the Chrysler group;
European PT Cruiser production plans underway in Graz, Austria

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Customers around the world waiting for their Chrysler
PT Cruiser will be glad to know production is running at full speed, ahead of 
schedule at top quality levels.  In response to overwhelming worldwide demand 
for DaimlerChrysler Corporation's hot-selling Chrysler PT Cruiser, the company's
Toluca Assembly Complex achieved its maximum level of PT Cruiser production 
today, two weeks ahead of schedule.  By improving efficiency, working with 
suppliers and working some overtime, the plant gained approximately 4,000 
additional units for the year.

    Likewise, the Eurostar Assembly Plant in Graz, Austria is beginning to
modify its tooling and finalizing supply chain logistics in preparation for
European Chrysler PT Cruiser production, which will begin in early summer
2001.  There are currently 14 Eurostar engineers in Toluca benchmarking best
practices as they prepare to launch the vehicle in Graz.

    "From Times Square and Sunset Boulevard to the Champs D'Elysee and
Potsdamer Platz, PT mania is sweeping the globe," said Jim Holden,
DaimlerChrysler Corporation President and CEO.  "The phenomenal interest for
this vehicle helps underscore the potential growth for the Chrysler brand
worldwide.  With current vehicle production reaching its top level ahead of
schedule, we are doing everything we can to meet the overwhelming customer
demand worldwide.  As production begins in Graz next year, it will free up
more North America allocation, where demand is the strongest.  Quality
indicators and initial warranty results for the Chrysler PT Cruiser have set a
new benchmark for the company.  This is the best Chrysler launch we've ever

    Since its debut in January 1999 and its recent arrival in driveways around
the world, customers have been lining up to place their order.  The PT Cruiser
went on sale in April in North America, and May in Europe and Japan.

    The hard work of the launch team and the flexibility of the Toluca
facility, in Toluca, Mexico, enabled the facility to reach the maximum rate of
40 vehicles per hour, two weeks ahead of schedule.  The Toluca facility will
be able to produce 180,000 vehicles annually, with another 50,000 coming from
Graz, for a total of 230,000 vehicles annually.  Approximately 3,400 team
members operate on two, nine-hour shifts at the Toluca complex.  The plant
currently produces both right and left-hand drive 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter
versions for the world market.

    As Chrysler PT Cruiser production has ramped up, production of the 2000
Chrysler Sebring Convertible decreased there as it shifts to the Sterling
Heights Assembly Plant in Detroit.  Sterling Heights is currently ramping up
production of the all new 2001 Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Chrysler Sebring
sedan and Dodge Stratus sedan.

    The flexibility of the Toluca facility enabled the company to launch the
PT Cruiser, while continuing to build Chrysler Sebring Convertible (as well as
Mexican versions of the Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus) -- all without
losing any production volume.

    "Because of the increasing flexibility of our manufacturing facilities,
we're able to build pre-production vehicles in the plants, on our assembly
lines much earlier," said Gary Henson, DaimlerChrysler's Executive Vice
President - Manufacturing.  "The benefits are tremendous: Flexibility enables
us to produce a higher-quality product much sooner, for lower cost, less
downtime and with minimal production loss.  This represents huge productivity
and efficiency improvements.  In the case of Toluca, we haven't lost any
production, and we've stayed focused on quality throughout the entire process.
It's a success story for the PT Cruiser launch team in Toluca and in Auburn


    Internal quality measures for the PT Cruiser as well as the first two
month's warranty claims set a new benchmark in quality for a Chrysler
production launch of an all new vehicle.

    "The PT Cruiser launch has been our best ever, in terms of quality," said
Henson.  "The goal of continuous improvement is to get better, and we continue
to raise the bar with every launch."

    Toluca was one of many plants benchmarked by the worldwide DaimlerChrysler
manufacturing group in developing best practices for the companies Operating
Principles, the comprehensive system it uses to produce vehicles.

    To ensure quality, the Toluca plant verifies parts, processes and fit and
finish every step of the way -- from stamping and body, to paint and final

    Some of quality assurance processes include:

    *  Measuring dimensional accuracy of eight full bodies per day by
        determining millimeter variances in the x, y and z axis of 5493
        points on the body;
    *  Visual Management through quality alert systems, which are
        designed to bring abnormal conditions to light immediately.
    *  The system provides visual and audible signals for each station
        for tooling, production, maintenance and material flow;
    *  The addition of 55 robots in the dimensional and integrity welding
        areas, including two framing stations;
    *  Daily weld and sealing audits, performed by ultrasonic weld detection;
    *  Daily body, paint and assembly audits for internal and exterior
    *  100 % Electrical and mechanical systems audits;
    *  100 % water tests;
    *  Daily customer satisfaction audit (CSA); and
    *  100 % Road test evaluation on the Toluca proving grounds