Chrysler Group has announced plans to invest $165 million to add a one million square-foot body shop at its assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. The 3-million square-foot facility, which produces the Chrysler 200 sedan and convertible models, plus the Dodge Avenger, will be expanded to accommodate a 1-million-square-foot body shop. According to Chrysler, the investment is on top of to the $850 million the automaker has allocated toward a state-of-the-art, 425,000-square-foot paint shop at the plant.
The Sterling Heights facility, which currently employs 2,524 workers (2,398 hourly; 126 salaried) on two shifts, and utilizes 784 robots, was built in 1953 as a jet engine plant. It was operated by the Army as the Michigan Ordinance Missile Plant, with Chrysler serving as contractor building Redstone and Jupiter missiles. In 1980 the facility was converted to an automobile plant by Volkswagen and purchased by Chrysler Corporation in 1983. Production of Chrysler LeBaron GTS and Dodge Lancer began in September 1984, Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance production began in 1985, and Dodge Daytona production began in 1991. Through the end of the 1991 model year, the facility had produced nearly 1.3 million vehicles.
Production of the 2001 Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedans began in the fall of 2000, followed by the Chrysler Sebring Convertible. The all-new 2007 Chrysler Sebring Sedan launched in August 2006, followed by the all-new 2008 Dodge Avenger and 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. In the first quarter of this year, Chrysler Group added a second shift of production—or about 900 jobs.