Chrysler Group is making a $165 million investment to construct a new 1 million-square-foot body shop at its assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said that in 2013, the body shop will start production of Chrysler's next generation of mid-size sedans. Presently, this plant produces Chrysler's two mid-size sedans -- the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger.
This is actually the second time that a major investment was made for the Sterling Heights plant. In December 2010, the company said that it will spend almost $850 million to construct a new paint shop for the plant.
Since June 2009, Chrysler Group has invested almost $3.5 billion in its U.S. plants. The Sterling Heights factory is considered by many Chrysler employees to be the symbol of its comeback story. The Sterling Heights plant was supposed to be closed down by previous owners Cerberus Capital Management even before Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy.
However, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne chose to keep it open. In a prepared statement, Scott Garberding, Chrysler senior vice president of manufacturing, said that this investment is “another milestone in the rags-to-riches story” of the plant.
He added that it will be transformed into a state-of-the-art facility that will contribute to its success by producing the next generation of all-new vehicles, which will be built on a Fiat front-drive platform adapted for the U.S. market.
This money will be used to build the new body shop and install highly advanced equipment and conveyors. Tinson said that the new body shop will replace the factory's current body shop, which will have another task.
She said that when it comes to jobs, there will be no net gain. Sterling Heights employs 2,524 workers on two shifts. In the recent tentative contract with the UAW (in the process of ratification), this investment was not specifically cited.