- New Dodge Avenger is second vehicle to be manufactured at Chrysler Group’s Sterling Heights facility
- Dodge Avenger expands Chrysler Group’s Flexible Manufacturing Strategy, allowing multiple products to be produced at one plant
- Dodge Avenger combines bold, aggressive Dodge styling making a powerful statement in the mid-size segment at an affordable price
The Chrysler Group today announced the production launch of the all-new 2008 Dodge Avenger at its Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant (SHAP). The Dodge Avenger was recently unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Mich.
The manufacturing launch of the Dodge Avenger represents the next stage of Chrysler Group’s expanding Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS) which allows the Company to bring new vehicles to market more quickly and gives assembly plants the ability to manufacture multiple products on one assembly line. The all-new 2008 Dodge Avenger will be built alongside the Chrysler Sebring Sedan, which began production in September 2006.
Production of the Dodge Avenger follows an extensive plant retooling which included multiple upgrades improving quality, productivity and worker ergonomics. SHAP is now able to vary the production mix between three products and pilot a fourth.
"We are now seeing the success of our $500 million investment in SHAP and Sterling (Heights) Stamping Plant," said Fred Goedtel, Vice President – Small/Premium/Family Vehicle Assembly.
"The plant enhancements have made the facility both more flexible and efficient. The assembly operation now has the capability to build multiple upper bodies and multiple vehicle families or architectures, which will allow for the flexibility to add new models or models from other plants in order to better meet the dynamics of the market."
Since the rollout of Chrysler Group’s Flexible Manufacturing Strategy in 2000, it has been the template for Chrysler Group’s rolling plant modernization activities. Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and Sterling Stamping, along with Belvidere Assembly Plant, represent the current archetypes of Chrysler Group’s flexible capabilities.
"In addition, the Sterling Stamping Plant can weld and assemble more than one product on the same line. These new capabilities will support the company’s pursuit of product leadership by providing flexibility to efficiently manage increased distinction between the Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge brands," said Goedtel.
$278 million was invested at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to overhaul the body shop and improve the paint shop and assembly areas, including new tooling and about 620 new welding and material-handling robots. The Trim, Chassis and Final (TCF) areas received a new glass-installation cell, windshield decking, chassis-insertion loop system, fluid-fill equipment and rolls-test machines. Each of these improved processes has contributed favorably to the plant’s overall productivity and efficiency efforts.
Chrysler Group’s Flexible Manufacturing Strategy allows the company to produce a higher quality product faster, and for a lower cost. In order to balance production with demand, the FMS approach allows the company to efficiently build lower-volume vehicles that take advantage of market niche, and to quickly shift production volumes between different models within a single plant or among multiple plants.
FMS is being implemented product by product and plant by plant across the Chrysler Group. New investment is introducing state-of-the-art technology to Chrysler Group plants allowing the company to produce more than one vehicle on a production line and conduct rolling launches of new models. Additionally, Chrysler Group’s workforce is becoming more flexible with the implementation of team concepts and an increased emphasis on supporting assembly line operators.
At the core of the new manufacturing process is a body shop comprised of 620 new robots instead of the vehicle-specific heavy tooling that was previously used, for a total of 784 robots in the Body Shop. Only the robots’ end effectors, or "hands," need to change in order to build the different models. That tool change is done automatically, within the time it takes to cycle from one vehicle to the next. A fourth model can also be piloted – or test-built – at the same time, helping reduce the time needed to make new-model changeovers.
A new Workplace Organizational Model, coined "Smart Manufacturing’" is increasing the flexibility of the SHAP workforce, while fostering greater creativity and innovation from plant employees. This model is being implemented throughout the Chrysler Group’s Manufacturing organization in conjunction with the UAW. In addition to extensive training, the new workplace model promotes employee involvement in all facets in the design and processing of the work stations. These changes provide a better work environment for employees and give increased support to assembly line team members while improving the Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, and Morale (SQDCM) principles.
The all-new Dodge Avenger has plenty of Dodge Charger DNA, and with aggressive Dodge styling that makes a powerful statement in the mid-size segment at an affordable price. Muscular rear shoulders, sleek rear spoiler and modern, yet menacing, quad headlamps embody the Dodge brand attributes of bold, powerful and capable.
The new Dodge Avenger rivals the quickest mid-size sedans in the segment based on 0-60 mph tests. The Dodge Avenger offers class-leading performance with an available 3.5-liter engine coupled with a six-speed automatic. It will produce approximately 235 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.4-liter all-aluminum four-cylinder World Engine provides a 15 percent increase in horsepower (173-horsepower vs. 150 horsepower) and 8 percent improvement in fuel economy over the 2.4-liter engine it replaces. An enhanced flexible-fuel 2.7-liter V6 produces 189 horsepower and 191 lb.-ft. of torque, providing more low-end torque (at 850 rpm lower) compared with the 2.7-liter engine it replaces.
The 2008 Dodge Avenger will be available in U.S. dealerships in the first quarter of 2007 and in global volume markets later in the year.
Chrysler Group is the city of Sterling Heights second-largest employer and has more than 4,800 employees working in two plants. The three million square-foot Sterling Heights Assembly Plant occupies 286 acres. In total, the Chrysler Group provides $150 million in annual wages and more than $5 million in taxable income to the state of Michigan.
Sterling Heights Assembly Plant opened in 1953 as a jet engine factory. The plant was purchased by Chrysler Group in 1983. SHAP is home to United Auto Workers Locals 1700, 889 and 412.
Sterling Stamping is 2.7 million square feet and employs 2,300. The plant is home to UAW Locals 1264, 889 and 412. The plant investment is just the latest in a long, cooperative partnership with the City of Sterling Heights.