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Plants Closed or Sold After The Daimler-Benz Takeover of Chrysler

Cerberus plant closings

chrysler plantThe St. Louis minivan plant closed October 31, 2008, shifting production to the Windsor, Ontario minivan plant.

Sterling Heights, where the Avenger and 200 née Sebring are made, is an advanced flexible manufacturing plant whose fate has been discussed recently given slow sales of those sedans and underutilization of both Sterling Heights and Belvidere. The mystery of its continued existence was resolved by the Fiat deal. The plant was to be closed, but will be kept open after all.

Mike V. wrote on October 10:

First we hear rumors of takeovers by Nissan at Sterling Heights. Then we hear of plant managers no longer working at Sterling Heights. Then paint shop construction being stopped is brought up. Now many of the Challenger guys have noticed that LX/LY cars are no longer being shipped to Sterling Heights to be loaded on rail cars, instead they are going to Windsor.

On May 1, 2009, the rumors came to a climax when Chrysler disclosed in court papers that it would close Sterling Heights by December 2010.

The new axle plant in Marysville, Michigan (around 50 miles from Detroit) will open in 2010, but it was sold by Cerberus to ZF, which operates it using Chrysler employees; a plant worker noted that should be a great improvement. “Every six months to twelve months we have the same problems because management stays the same and they really are just tossed into a department without fully understanding what is really going on. The managers of old came from the floor and knew the processes. The majority of the ones in the plant now were green when they arrived and are green five years later.”

Daimler closings

The “deep pockets” of Mercedes became far too deep to find any cash in after billions were extracted from Chrysler, leaving nothing left to weather downturns.

Chrysler was healthy until being taken over by Daimler-Benz, which entailed having Chrysler Financial — a key profit-maker — removed, all automotive designs in progress stopped for two years to let Mercedes engineers and executives make unnecessary changes, paying massive royalties and consulting fees to Mercedes, and other actions that almost made plant closures inevitable. In 2006, Chrysler announced its intention to import a small car, most likely from Chery of China, which would further reduce the American plant count - even as Toyota, Hyundai/Kia, and Honda build new plants in the US. The way to grow a tree is not by clipping its roots.

Chrysler had, as of 2005, slowed its closings and sales and started to invest in flexible manufacturing at existing plants. A new unionized engine plant was also recently opened in Michigan to build the "world engine." However, in 2006, when Joe Eberhardt’s new sales bank was discovered, the shutdown of at least one and possibly two more plants became, again, inevitable - at least with the current “move forward by cutting costs, not by investing” philosophy.

A listing of Chrysler plant closings and sales

Additions: 2008

Additions: 2007

Additions: 2005

Additions: 2004

Additions: 2003



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