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Making the Dodge Dart at the Belvidere Assembly Plant

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Making the Dodge Dart at the Belvidere Assembly Plant

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In February 2012, Chrysler announced that it would add about 1,800 jobs at its Belvidere Assembly Plant, partly to add a third crew for making the Dodge Dart. The Dart was slated to begin full production to retail customers at the end of April 2012; the official launch was on May 7.

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The plant was then making the Jeep Compass and Patriot; Darts were added to the same lines.

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The opening ceremony included Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Belvidere Mayor Frederic Brereton, UAW Region 4 Director Ron McInroy, and hundreds of employees. The last time Belvidere had run three shifts was in March 2008.

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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.

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The new jobs were added as part of a controversial pattern that allowed the plant to run an additional 49 days per year, though many workers have complained about the impact on their sleep and family lives, as well as quality and safety. The 3-2-120 schedule put three crews onto four ten-hour straight-time days per week for a total of 120 hours of production time; the advantage is having employees work 49 fewer days per year, while the plant operates 49 more days.

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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.
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Sergio Marchionne, in his speech, said:

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.
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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.

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.
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Sergio Marchionne also said that the Dart would "change consumer perceptions about what they can expect in a compact sedan."

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

Working at the plant: <a name="factory"></a>Dave Tyjeski (2009), Bill Wetherholt (2009), Matt Wetherholt (2009), Views (2002), Teamwork (1998)

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