Chrysler to Push Through With Plans in Trenton

By: Jerick Brooks

In the news: The Free Press has reported that the Chrysler Group maker of the famous has set aside their plans of producing the new V6 engine plant after DaimlerChrysler CEO Zetsche made an announcement last February 14 stating that the Auburn Hills-based automaker is going to be sold.

Many wonder whether this was the first concrete sign of the steps being taken by DaimlerChrysler to separate the Chrysler Group from the parent company. But Chrysler insiders deny such notions. And last Wednesday, the producer of top-of-the-line , Chrysler Group has finally announced its plan to build a $730-million engine plant in Trenton that is going to be placed right next to its current engine factory. This announcement came as a surprise to city officials who had previously given up on the possibility.

Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown in his state of the city address has accepted the fact that the city may lose its largest employer and taxpayer which is the Chrysler's Trenton Engine Plant after learning of the announcement made by DaimlerChrysler that it might sell its Chrysler arm.

It should be noted that before February 14, Chrysler Group has announced its plans that will help the company to turnaround and return to profitability but things changed after DaimlerChrysler announced that it might sell its US-based unit. Brown said that after that sad news Trenton was no longer sure whether previous Chrysler plan of building an additional plant will still pushed through.

Hope return after Chrysler announcement last Wednesday that it will pursue its plan of building an additional plant in Trenton but added that there would be some changes in the plan like for instance instead of the of originally planned 1 million square feet to produce more than 650,000 engines a year, it will be reduced to a smaller facility measuring only 780,000 square feet which is just enough to fit on the current Trenton site and produce 440,000 engines a year.

And just like the original plan the new facility will be used to build new line of V6 engines, reducing four different architectures to one. The facility will also replace the current Trenton plant. Trenton city officials are hoping that the plant will produce more in the future to continuously provide employment to more people in the city.

The engines that are to be created in the new facility in Trenton are dubbed the Phoenix which previous news has reported would be made for both Mercedes and Chrysler Group vehicles but unfortunately there was no mention of Mercedes on last Wednesday's engine announcement.

It can be remembered that last summer, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that the two units were working on a joint program to develop a common V6 engine technology that may be used in all of DaimlerChrysler AG's car brands. But according to Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff, "This announcement is independent of any Mercedes plans. Mercedes is not part of the current Phoenix plan."

Analyst Paul Lacy of Global Insight said that a few months ago he was told by Chrysler officials that the Phoenix Program is going to be created for both Chrysler and Mercedes and could mean the production of more than 1 million engines a year. Lacy also said that there could be reasons why Chrysler has chosen to build a smaller facility, "The first one is that they have some understanding or indications that they are not going to continue their cooperation with Mercedes that far down the line. At that point, 440,000 units are almost understandable."

He pointed out also the fact that the Phoenix program could be a split between the Trenton site and a Chrysler engine plant in Kenosha, Wis., where the local union agreed to changes in work rules last year, or elsewhere. He speculated that the old Trenton plant could be used for the Phoenix program. He said, "Something is up. Either they are going to use a second site or they are losing Mercedes."

Last February, it seems that Chrysler had focused in on a spot in Van Buren Township. But according to Township Supervisor Cindy King, she noticed that by the end of February the company has stopped talking. She is wondering whether the potential sale of Chrysler has anything to do with it.

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