Chrysler Breaks Ground for New Phoenix Engine Plant in Michigan

By: Correy Putton

Marking another momentous milestone in the progress of its turnaround plan, the Chrysler Group earlier hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future Trenton Phoenix Engine Plant in Michigan. The $730 million engine plant is part of the automaker's $3 billion Powertrain Offensive as announced in February.

At groundbreaking ceremony were Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown, UAW Vice President General Holiefield and other public officials. They were joined by the Chrysler Group executives.

"Today's groundbreaking ceremony commemorates an important growth milestone for Chrysler Group and for the City of Trenton," said Frank Ewasyshyn, the Chrysler Group Executive Vice President for Manufacturing. "Constructing our new plant at this site also confirms the commitment of Chrysler Group to investing in the communities where we do business and supporting economic development throughout the State of Michigan. This new plant will enable us to develop products that are designed to meet changing consumer tastes for more fuel efficient vehicles."

The 822,000-square-foot Trenton Phoenix Engine Plant will produce a new family of fuel efficient V-6 engines, known inside the Chrysler Group as "Phoenix" engines. In time, the Phoenix family of V-6, designed to compete with and other refined engines, will decrease manufacturing intricacy by paring the company's four present V-6 architectures to one. The production of which is set to begin in 2009.

The plant will be situated adjacent to the Trenton Engine Plant, on Van Horn between Fort Street and Jefferson. The Trenton Phoenix Engine Plant will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 400,000 to 440,000 engines. Once the plant is completely equipped, the Trenton Phoenix Engine Plant will employ 485 full-time workers.

"These engine plants help cement Michigan's position as the world's leader in automotive innovation and excellence and show what can happen when state and local governments work with business to make our state competitive," Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. "From investing in our workers to creating a business-friendly climate throughout the state, we are working every day to attract new automotive companies and other industries that will bring jobs and grow here in Michigan."

"We appreciate the confidence Chrysler Group has shown in its workforce by this continuing investment in powertrain operations, which will help preserve good-paying manufacturing jobs," said General Holiefield, the UAW Vice President, who directs the union's DaimlerChrysler Department. "UAW members at Trenton are 100 percent dedicated to quality, and we're excited to participate in building the next generation of fuel-efficient engines for Chrysler's great line-up of vehicles."

The new Michigan plant of the American automaker will have an aggressive labor agreement that integrates Smart manufacturing initiatives, volume-bundled parts purchasing, flexible CNC-based machining, volume-bundled capital investment and standardized tooling.

The total cost of the building, land improvements and equipment mirrors one of the Chrysler's biggest capital investments in the city. Since 2003, the Auburn Hills automaker has invested $4.4 billion in its Southeast Michigan manufacturing operations.

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