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2011 Avengers: plant nearly at full speed

by David Zatz on

The Sterling Heights plant has just started to make the 2011 models — cranking out Dodge Avengers now, and moving on soon to the Chrysler 200.  Yet, the plant is reportedly nearly at its full operating speed, indicating that forward planning helped to minimize the impact of the transition.

While the Avenger and 200 have a similar exterior shape and basic design when compared with their predecessors, the interior was almost completely altered, and the suspension was extensively retuned. The body shells are similar, allowing for a similar assembly process, but the number of changed parts, with substantially different suspension and powertrain dimensions and clearances, meant that this was not a normal model year changeover, despite outward appearances.

Sterling Heights is benchmarking Toyota and Volvo for customer satisfaction, and made substantial progress in moving from “the-consumer-reporting-magazine-that-may-not-be-named black dot” territory to “red dot” turf even before the shutdown, starting under Cerberus. Under Fiat leadership, deferred maintenance has been addressed, and equipment has been restored to its original specifications; greater strides may be possible when Sterling Heights is retooled for the Avenger/Sebring replacements in two years.

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