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Making the Dodge Dart at the Belvidere Assembly Plant

first 2013 Dodge Dart

dart and patriot

Chrysler announced in February 2012 that it would add about 1,800 jobs at its Belvidere Assembly Plant, including workers for a third crew and hundreds of jobs for production of the Dodge Dart. With these new jobs, the Company will have added nearly 4,000 hourly position in the U.S. since June 2009, and nearly 10,000 employees total since emerging from bankruptcy. Dart is slated to begin full volume production to retail customers at the end of April 2012.


Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the plans during a ceremony at the plant with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Belvidere Mayor Frederic Brereton, UAW Region 4 Director Ron McInroy, and hundreds of current employees. The last time Belvidere ran three shifts was in March 2008 when there were about 3,600 employees; by the end of 2012, there will be over 4,500 employees at the plant.

plant manager

Marchionne also said that the new 638,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art body shop had cost nearly $700 million, including new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment for the production of the Dodge Dart.


“It was not by chance that we chose Belvidere to make this investment and build the new Dodge Dart,” Marchionne told employees. “Our decision is evidence of the faith we have in your level of commitment and your passion to deliver great products for our customers. You have been essential in our ability to author a remarkable story of recovery.”

sergio and governor

The new jobs will be added as part of a controversial pattern that allows the plant to run an additional 49 days per year, though many workers have complained about the impact on their sleep and family lives. The 3-2-120 schedule, as the operating pattern is called, puts three crews onto four ten-hour straight-time days per week for a total of 120 hours of production time. Compared to a traditional plant schedule, individual employees on a 3-2-120 schedule work 49 fewer days per year, but the plant operates 49 more days.

launch 2013 dart

Plant worker “MadWasp” wrote,

Belvidere has been team-based (Smart Manufacturing) since the Caliber launch. We rotate jobs within the teams, usually about every two hours. Working on the assembly line hurts, and every job hurts you in a different way. I do it for the money, not for the love of repetitive motion.

compass and patriot 2012

Sergio Marchionne’s speech

Good morning to you all.

I am delighted that you could join us today for this significant celebration, and I’d like to begin by thanking a number of people who have played a big part in making this day possible.

First of all I want to thank Governor Quinn for his efforts to make this investment possible.

I’d like to thank Mayor Brereton and the Belvidere City Council for always believing in Chrysler and its workers.

And finally, Ron McInroy, the UAW Region 4 Director, who is here and will also speak to you this morning.

Our partnership with the UAW has played an essential role in enabling today’s celebration.

factory dart

Now personally, this is a visit that has been due for a long period of time because of what this plant means to the overall success of Chrysler and moreover for the example that the workers here at Belvidere have been able to set.

It is no secret that this plant has always been one of the best assembly plants within Chrysler for performance, for productivity, and it is a benchmark which is now being measured against the European plants of Fiat and Belvidere continues to shine among the top performers of the whole group. 


I don’t know whether they’ve told you but there was a recent study that was carried out by Harbour that measured the competitiveness of 34 plants across Europe and North America and Belvidere – and this is not just within the Fiat-Chrysler world but it’s across our competitors, and Belvidere ranked 3rd out of 34 so –

You just got a couple of spots to close and then we’re done.

The Jeep brand was recognized as the most reliable domestic brand in 2011 by Consumer Reports, and the Patriot, the car that you build here, was selected as the most reliable Jeep model.

And these are just – These are just two of the very impressive results that this plant has achieved and can be proud of.

welding robots

None of them would have been possible without the efforts that the men and women here at the Belvidere Assembly Plant have shown in investing in their jobs and in the steadfast faith that they have demonstrated in Chrysler, in themselves, and ultimately in each other.

Moments like this are moments that go beyond celebration. They’re also occasions to reflect on how we got here, and why.

I know that the times you endured in the recent past were not easy.

In 2009, when a new Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, there was only one shift in this plant, and fewer than 200 people were working throughout this building, with little hope and tremendous uncertainty.

Now, the story that we’ve all written together since then is something which is simply exceptional.

line stopper

Just six months after the creation of the new Chrysler, we were able to add a second shift and to hire hundreds of workers; workers who at the beginning were temporary, but very soon became permanent.

Today, we’re here to celebrate the start of a significant new chapter in this plant’s history.

The $600 million investment that we announced at the end of 2010 has now grown to almost $700 million, and it is now a reality. This has allowed us to open a state-of-the-art-body shop; to drive out waste and increase worker involvement by introducing World Class Manufacturing; and to transform Belvidere into one of the safest and the most efficient assembly plants in the world.

Above all, this investment will enable us to start, in a few months, the production of the new Dodge Dart that was named the “Most Significant Vehicle” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

outside the plant

The Dart is a groundbreaking new car. It represents a big step in achieving outstanding fuel economy, and it will change consumer perceptions about what they can expect in a compact sedan. And it’s completely, totally, proudly made here in the United States.

Now, I’m also delighted to be here today to announce that we will soon be adding a third crew here at Belvidere. In total, this means that we’re going to be adding more than 1,800 new jobs by this summer to support the new production of the Dart and the third crew, providing a more certain and solid future for the plant and for all the people that work here.

It was not by chance that we chose Belvidere to make this investment and to build the new Dodge Dart because with the new Dart, we are setting out to play in a highly competitive crucial automotive segment, a segment that accounts for about 15 percent of the U.S. market and 23 percent of the Canadian market. Our decision is evidence of the faith we have in your level of commitment and in your passion to deliver great products for our customers. You have been essential in our ability to author a remarkable story of recovery.

pre dart speech

And so I’m here also to express my sincere gratitude for your dedication, and for your hard work, and for helping us create a work environment which is dedicated to quality, and with the flexibility to compete with the best plants anywhere in the world.

I also want to recognize that giving back to the community is part and parcel of the DNA at Belvidere Assembly. Your outstanding support for programs such as the United Way, the Holiday Wish Program, and the Giving Tree, among others, goes a long way towards making the Belvidere area a better place to live and a better place to work.


Now, I’ve been told that when someone asks you where you work, the most common reply, even before “in the town of Belvidere,” is “in the middle of a cornfield”.

What I can tell you is that you are working in the middle of a great project; a project that speaks of cultural integration and production excellence.

The truth is that you will be building the first Chrysler Group vehicle to feature a Fiat-derived architecture, which was adapted from the award-winning Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The truth is that you are working in a plant that is an example of the kind of mosaic that we aim to create between our two companies, between Chrysler and Fiat; a mosaic in which each piece has a clear identity and yet is interconnected with the other pieces, forming a strong overall design.


Here there are workers who come from far away – from Alabama, from New York, Indianapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, Kokomo, Delaware, and New Jersey – but as a team, you could not be closer. Wherever you came from, you all share the same strong work ethic and the same unrelenting commitment to the values that guide the new Chrysler: of renewal, of a willingness to engage in competition, to better oneself every day, of service to others and the communities in which we live, in creating the conditions for a better future for our children.

You are the new Chrysler. Your efforts have enabled us to revive this company and put Chrysler on a path to regain its rightful place as a great car company.

I want to thank you again for all you’ve done, but more importantly for who you are and what you are.

The 3/2/120 shifts

The new shift is to start in the summer, after Patriot buildout, at the time of writing, on July 23, 2012.

MadWasp wrote, “All shifts are ten hours. Day shifts are 6:00 am - 4:30 pm; night shifts are 6:00 pm - 4:30 am.”

Crew A works only days: Monday - Thursday.
Crew B works only nights: Wednesday - Saturday.
Crew C rotates. Days: Friday and Saturday; Nights: Monday and Tuesday.
Everyone is off Sundays — for now.

ShadowRider wrote,

The 3/2/120 that is used at Trenton rotates from days to nights. This is how it works.

You start the night shift on Wednesday at 4:30pm and work until 4:30 am because they can work you overtime 11 1/2 hours plus half an hour unpaid lunch. You do this through Saturday, and Sunday they forced the whole crew in again. Monday and Tuesday, the same thing. You get off at 4:30 am on what is now your days off — Wednesday, Thursday —and then you start working day shift Friday for the next 7 days because they forced you in in Sunday again from 4:30 am until 4:30 pm. The following Thursday at 4:30 pm you get off and don't have to be back until the following Wednesday. Plenty of time to get into the doctors and get something to help you sleep. Three crews doing the same thing just on different days

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Also see... Factory photos: 2009 Dodge Ram - 1995 Neon - Chrysler LeBaron Convertible - Newark Assembly Plant

Working at the plant: Dave Tyjeski (2009), Bill Wetherholt (2009), Matt Wetherholt (2009), Views (2002), Teamwork (1998)

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