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Mack I back in gear (corrected)

by David Zatz on

Chrysler engine plant on Mack Avenue has been producing engine parts and assembling completed Pentastar V6 engines since January, a Chrysler spokesman confirmed this week.

That brings the total number of plants making the engine up to four, one more than originally anticipated, though two of the plants are smaller-volume than the first plans called for. Similar large assembly plants are in Trenton, Michigan, and in Mexico;  an additional parts-and-lower-volume-assembly plant is next to the new Trenton facility (in the old, gutted-and-rebuilt building), and the fourth is Mack Avenue I.

The two Mack Avenue engine plants are at 4000 and 4500 St. Jean Avenue in Detroit. In 2007 and 2008, the Harbour Report named the Mack Avenue Engine Complex as the most productive engine manufacturing facility in its category; the plant spent just 3.77 labor hours per engine.

The original Mack Avenue I plant (“Old Mack”) was built in 1916 by the Michigan Stamping Company, which was later sold to Briggs Manufacturing (in 1920); it would later make bodies for Plymouth and others, and along with 11 other plants, was purchased by Chrysler Corporation in 1953. In the 1990s, Chrysler built a new plant nearby (“Mack II”), which housed Dodge Viper construction until 1995. (We are currently investigating the question of whether the Mack I plant is the original, expanded and upgraded, or a replacement on the original site.)

The Mack Avenue I plant has 1.4 million square feet of floor space, and employees 305 people; producing the Pentastar required a roughly $200 million investment.

Many of the parts made in Trenton and Detroit (Mack Avenue) were formerly outsourced, including silicone-treated engine blocks.

The original plans for the Pentastar V6 included turbocharged, twin-turbocharged, and direct-injected versions, which have not been seen; a proposed low-cost 3.3 has reportedly been dropped completely, but there is still some cause to believe that direct injection is planned for the future. Chrysler may be waiting for proposed rules on low-sulfur fuel, or may simply have re-prioritized their research and development effort in light of the need to improve its four-cylinder engines and Hemi series of V8s.

Thanks to Jodi Tinson from Chrysler for correcting this story to read that Mack I is producing engines, not Mack II.

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