Chrysler Invests 450m in Kenosha Engine Plant

By: Anthony Fontanelle

The Chrysler Group announced plans to invest $450 million in its Kenosha Engine Plant in Wisconsin. The investment, which will be used for the launch of fuel-efficient 'Phoenix' engines, is part of the $3 billion-worth transformation plan of the recovering automaker.

Retooling for the Kenosha Phoenix Engine Plant will begin in June 2010. Additionally, the production of new V6 engines called Phoenix will start January 2011. The Kenosha plan will have an annual Phoenix production capacity of 400,000 units when it reaches full volume. The Phoenix family of V6 engines will lessen manufacturing intricacy by paring the four current V6 engine architectures to one.

Aside from the production of Phoenix engines, the plant is also working on the dual-clutch transmission joint venture with German parts maker Getrag and the new common axle family. These efforts form part of the Auburn Hills automaker's commitment to improve powertrain technologies - a crucial step to produce fuel-efficient product lines. Since 2002, the automaker has invested over $12.93 billion in its North American Operations, including $8.63 billion in the United States.

The announcement of the company, held at the 1.9 million square-foot plant, marked another remarkable milestone for Chrysler. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, Chrysler Group Vice President - Powertrain Manufacturing Richard Chow-Wah, Kenosha Engine Plant Manager Kevin Sell and UAW officials graced the significant event.

"Wisconsin is one of America's leading manufacturing economies. This $450 million commitment by Chrysler to our state demonstrates that we continue to attract important investments that provide high paying jobs for our workforce," said Doyle. "This shows what can happen when state and local governments work together to create a business-friendly environment." The Governor said that Chrysler would receive an incentive package of Kenosha County, City of Kenosha and State of Wisconsin funds totaling $16.8 million.

"This retooling investment will allow us to build an entirely new, globally competitive family of V-6 engines," said Chow-Wah. "The Chrysler Group Recovery and Transformation Plan is focused on new products, and today's news supports a long-term commitment to new vehicle components that support consumer demand for refined, economical-to-operate vehicles for many years to come."

The domestic automaker has had a presence in Kenosha since 1987, when American Motors Corp. was acquired by the Chrysler Corporation. The automaker's current 2.7- liter V6 has been manufactured there since 1997. The company's 3.5-liter V6 was launched in 1999, a part of a $624 million modernization of the plant.

Kenosha becomes the third Phoenix engine plant announced by Chrysler Group since April 2007. Other plants include those in Trenton, Mich. and Saltillo, Mexico. The Auburn Hills automaker will also construct a plant in Marysville, Mich. which is intended for a new line of corporate axles.

"Chrysler Group has had a 20-year-long presence in Kenosha - and even longer factoring in American Motors' storied past," said Sell. "With this new tooling and this new engine line, we're demonstrating the commitment of Chrysler Group to support economic development and invest in the communities where it does business.

"This is an important day for the future of the UAW and Chrysler Group, and in particular for the continued competitiveness of our team here in the State of Wisconsin," said General Holiefield, the UAW Vice President, who directs the union's DaimlerChrysler Department. "We have a vision to see this company and our union grows this business and transform Chrysler Group into a stronger company that will be competitive for the long run."
After the ghastly divorce with German DaimlerChrysler, Chrysler is accelerating like the to chase the auto competition. Once the Kenosha plant is fully operational, it will employ 700 full-time workers.

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