It has been nearly 17 months since Chrysler Group LLC and Fiat Group joined forces with Chrysler emerging as a new company with CEO Sergio Marchionne at the helm.
You may be curious about what the company has been up to since then. The short answer is, plenty. While the launch of the all-new 2011 Jeep® Grand Cherokee kicked off a torrent of new and refreshed vehicles about to hit the showroom floor, our manufacturing side has been literally working overtime implementing World Class Manufacturing to boost quality, efficiency and productivity as the company invests millions to update equipment and processes.
Here is a quick catch-up on what may have been missed.
Since June 2009, Chrysler Group has made significant progress as a renewed player in the automotive industry. This includes reporting an operating profit of $326 million for the first half of 2010 and a $239 million operating profit for the period ending September 30, 2010, as well as announcing numerous investments in U.S. facilities that account for more than $2.1 billion.
Let’s take a closer look at these Chrysler Group
investments and the new and retained American jobs that
• $179 million invested at Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant (Dundee, Mich.). More than 150 new jobs created
• $43 million invested at Kokomo Casting Plant and Kokomo Transmission Plant (Kokomo, Ind.). Nearly 400 new positions to be filled primarily by Chrysler workers on layoff
• To keep up with demand for its newly launched 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a second shift of nearly 1,100 jobs was announced at Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant starting in July
• Additional $300 million invested in Indiana Transmission Plant I and the Kokomo Casting Plant (Kokomo, Ind.). Nearly 1,200 jobs retained
• Chrysler Group announced Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant (SHAP), previously designated for closure in 2012, will remain open and a second shift of nearly 900 jobs will be added in the first quarter of 2011. In addition, suppliers will add nearly 500 jobs to support SHAP production
• Chrysler Group announced a potential investment of $1 billion in SHAP and surrounding stamping facilities as well as its GEMA facility
• Most recently, Chrysler Group announced a $600 million investment in its Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant. This plant will produce future products, beginning in 2012 and nearly 2,000 jobs will be retained
Moving on from investment talk, Chrysler Group has a lot to offer by way of new and recharged Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram cars and trucks.
The company set the bar high in November 2009 when it laid out an aggressive plan to renew and refresh 75 percent of its current vehicle line by the end of 2010 and 100 percent of the portfolio by the end of 2012. Since then it has been working full steam ahead to turn that goal into a reality.
The 2011 product barrage started with the introduction of the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee in May 2010. This vehicle was quickly awarded a ‘Top Safety Pick’ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in June, solidifying a turn in the right direction for American manufacturing and the Chrysler Group.
In July, Fiat North America rewarded its long-time U.S. enthusiasts with an opportunity to reserve one of 500 special-edition vehicles, the Fiat Cinquecento ‘Prima Edizione’. Keeping with the theme of paying homage to its legendary brand enthusiasts, that same month, Chrysler Group introduced the Mopar® ’10 Challenger and offered 500 special-edition cars to be built by pre-order for loyalists.
In August 2010, the company revealed a few sneak peeks at the new architecture and styling of the 2011 Dodge Durango. Next it unveiled the new version of the 2011 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited both featuring an all-new interior and upscale appearance courtesy of a body color removable hardtop.
The company really ramped up expectations in October when it shared photos of the highly-anticipated 2011 Chrysler 200 mid-sized sedan and the amped up Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. Later that month, it continued its product onslaught by unveiling the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and the newly overhauled 2011 Dodge Avenger. In both vehicles, the revamped interior takes the front seat, followed closely by the redesigned exterior and upped performance attributes.
The company ended October on a high-note when it swept the competition in every category entered at the Texas Auto Writers Association’s (TAWA) Texas Truck Rodeo. The new 2011 Ram Laramie Longhorn took home top honors as “Truck of Texas” while the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee claimed the "SUV of Texas" spot. In the remaining categories, the Ram brand reigned supreme, securing a plethora of awards including Full-Size Truck of Texas, Heavy-Duty Truck of Texas and Luxury Truck of Texas.
In just a few short months, Chrysler Group has come a long way in making impressive strides in the right direction. Momentum keeps rolling and we have no intention of slowing down. Until next time…