Chrysler will provide more evidence today that its recovery is in full swing as it details plans to invest $238 million in three Michigan plants and add about 1,250 jobs so it can ramp up production of its engines and pickups.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and UAW Vice President General Holiefield are scheduled to be at Chrysler's Mack Avenue Engine I plant this morning for the announcement.
The largest investment -- $198 million -- will come at the plant on Detroit's east side, where the new equipment will enable production of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. The company expects to add 250 jobs there, according to a person familiar with the project. Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan declined to comment.
The engine is an option on the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup and is offered on 11 other Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models.
Marchionne also will announce plans to:
--Add a third crew of about 1,000 workers at its Warren Truck plant by next spring to increase production of the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup.
--Invest $40 million at the company's Trenton North engine plant to install a flexible assembly line to produce Pentastar and Tigershark engines. That is in addition to a $114-million investment announced last year.
After Chrysler idled the 60-year-old plant in 2011, the company said it would reopen and hire 268 workers to make components for the Pentastar V6 engine.
Chrysler was caught in the cross fire of the presidential election campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney ran ads in Ohio emphasizing plans by Chrysler and its parent Fiat to resume production of Jeeps in China. That is the plan, but the production will not come at the expense of Jeep production or jobs in Toledo and Detroit, as the Romney ads inferred.
In the campaign's final week, Marchionne issued a terse statement to make clear there was no trade-off between investing in the U.S. and investing in China.
Tracy Handler, principal at IHS Automotive, said Chrysler likely needs more engines for the additional pickups it will produce in Warren.
The Ram pickup, which went into production in September, can be purchased with a Pentastar V6 engine or a larger V8.
"They really got out ahead of GM and Ford, and are kind of hitting the market at the same time that we are possibly seeing growth in the housing market," Handler said.
The Free Press first reported in June Chrysler's plan to consider adding a third crew at the Warren plant. Chrysler currently employs more than 2,300 workers at the 74-year-old plant.
The Mack Avenue Engine I plant at 4000 St. Jean Ave. in Detroit was purchased by Chrysler in 1953. About 144 employees work there now, making V8 engines for the Ram 1500 pickup.
An adjacent factory, called Mack Avenue II, was idled in September. However, the 200 workers who worked there are eligible to transfer to other plants, including to fill the jobs Chrysler will announce today.
Chrysler has recalled or hired about 7,000 hourly workers in the U.S. and Canada since it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 with $12.1 billion of emergency funding from the U.S. government.
In May 2011, Chrysler repaid $9.3 billion to the U.S. and Canadian governments six years earlier than required. That sum does not include the $1.3 billion provided by the Bush administration to the automaker before it filed for bankruptcy.
U.S. auto sales have increased 13.8 percent for the first 10 months this year. Chrysler sales have risen 22.5 percent in that period.
People interested in applying for the new jobs should check for openings at www.chryslercareers.com.
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