The New Chrysler Canada Celebrates Manufacturing Launch of All-New 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country

    -   Company, union and government cooperation support Windsor Assembly
    -   More than $500 million investment leads to state-of-the-art
    -   Innovations make the WAP paintshop cleaner, more efficient and
        improve production quality.
    -   35 new features including Swivel 'n Go(TM) seating promise continued
        market dominance.

    WINDSOR, ON, Aug. 21 /CNW/ - The New Chrysler Canada today celebrated the
manufacturing launch of the all-new 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town
& Country at the Windsor Assembly Plant. A $511 million (USD) investment to
the manufacturing and paint operations in 2005 provided extensive improvements
to accommodate the new minivans' advanced production requirements and Smart
Manufacturing methods. The enhanced processes and installation of new
technology also will benefit future product launches and additional product
variants due to the greater levels of flexibility. The minivans are built on
the same assembly line as the Chrysler Pacifica.
    The event was attended by The New Chrysler President Tom LaSorda, The New
Chrysler Canada President Reid Bigland, The New Chrysler Executive Vice
President of Manufacturing Frank Ewasyshyn, hundreds of plant employees,
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Ministers Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan,
local federal Members of Parliament, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, Canadian
Auto Workers (CAW) President Buzz Hargrove and other guests.
    "Ever since the first minivan rolled off the assembly line here in
Windsor 24 years ago, this vehicle has embodied the spirit of innovation that
is part of Chrysler's DNA," said LaSorda, a Windsor native. "A decade later,
the home of the minivan has become one of our first plants to implement an
enhanced flexible manufacturing strategy and Smart Manufacturing model which
promotes greater innovation and creativity on the plant floor."
    "The new Chrysler minivans are a source of tremendous pride for the
employees of Chrysler Canada as well as a symbol of quality manufacturing for
Windsor, Ontario, and all of Canada," said Reid Bigland, President and CEO of
Chrysler Canada. "These important vehicles will answer the needs for many
Chrysler and Dodge customers."
    "I'd like to thank the local, provincial, and federal governments, as
well as CAW Locals 444, 1498, 195 and ONA Local 8 for their support in this
important project," Bigland added.
    The company and the CAW worked together to implement new operating
principles on the plant floor.
    "This day provides a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of
all Chrysler CAW members at Windsor Assembly and in the City of Windsor", said
Hargrove. "The workers have earned this commitment to the future of this plant
by their quality and productivity and their efforts have been rewarded with a
new world-class product."
    The Government of Ontario committed a $76.8 million investment through
the Ontario Automotive Investment Strategy to support the project, and the
Government of Canada committed $46 million. The investments are critical to
ensuring the industry's competitiveness in a global marketplace.
    "Our auto investment strategy makes the most of the skills and know-how
of Ontario's workers and Chrysler's investment shows that this approach is
delivering the best jobs at the highest pay," said Premier McGuinty. "Our
government is working with the auto sector so the next generation of vehicles
will be researched, developed and built in Ontario."
    The ability to build several vehicles under the same roof allows Chrysler
to save millions of investment dollars and bring a vehicle to market faster,
with even higher quality levels and minimal downtime.
    "While the 2008 Chrysler and Dodge minivans are all-new and mark the
introduction of an industry-first all-new Swivel 'n Go(TM) seating system, we
were able to bring this vehicle to market with high levels of quality, lower
costs, less downtime and minimal production loss," said Frank Ewasyshyn,
Executive Vice President - Manufacturing, The New Chrysler. "By further
enhancing the flex capability of Windsor Assembly Plant and implementing Smart
Manufacturing we're saving money and reducing manufacturing complexity."

    New Paint Shop

    The 185,000 square foot paint shop is completely new, designed as one of
the most flexible, leanest and environmentally sound paint shops in the
company. The paint shop floor contains the latest energy efficient ovens,
booths, fans and 127 robots, all controlled by an environmental management
system. The level of automation keeps employees out of the hazardous material
    Advanced oven design, "Bottom Entry & Exit", eliminates air-seal
requirements which saves heat and further reduces the potential of foreign
material defects. A new sludge dryer transforms saturated liquid sludge to a
dry firm cake without the use of an external heating source, thereby
conserving energy, and reducing waste. The dried sludge can potentially be
used as a supplemental fuel in future applications.
    New base and clear coat spray booths re-circulate the majority of their
air, significantly reducing energy consumption and providing greater control
over the paint process to improve quality. The color application process is
entirely robotic with high voltage electrostatic bell applicators which
require less energy, reduce paint usage and solvent emission, and improve
quality at the same time. A fully robotic foam application system
automatically injects sound deadening material into the vehicle by locating
11mm holes using a laser guide vision system. Finally, a robotic inspection
system measures film build, color, and appearance of five vehicles per hour
and returns that information back to the application engineers to maintain

    CAW Cooperation

    Recent agreements with CAW-represented employees have also cleared the
way for new operating principles. The Smart Manufacturing pacts are designed
to foster greater creativity and innovation on the plant floor. They allow for
work teams, self-designed work stations, a framework for flexible job
classifications and extensive employee training. These elements will help
provide a better, safer work environment and further support assembly line
    "The cooperation of the workforce and management team has significantly
impacted the success of the all-new 2008 Chrysler and Dodge minivan
manufacturing launch," said Marcel Breault, Plant Manager WAP, The New
Chrysler. "By working together, we were able to change a culture, reacting to
problems more quickly and with discipline."
    Working closely with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), Windsor Assembly
teams conducted over 345,000 training hours in 2006 and 2007 in order to
prepare all employees for the new processes that were implemented for
production of the vehicle.

    Windsor Assembly Plant

    Windsor Assembly will be capable of building two different vehicle
platforms and piloting a third simultaneously on the same production line. The
ability to build multiple products on the same line enables the company to
build and test prototype vehicles much earlier in the launch phase. Because
the same tooling and same processes are employed (rather than a simulated
line), the company can train operators and resolve manufacturing issues much
sooner. Quality improvements are another benefit.
    This flexible manufacturing system was first used in the launch of the
then all-new 2001 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan series of minivans
in the summer of 2000. Windsor Assembly ramped up to maximum production of
about 25,000 units of the all-new model in just 25 days, compared with a
110-day industry average for a major change-over of this type.
    The Windsor Assembly Plant's body shop's under-body pallet system, an
enabler of flexibility, gives the plant the ability to maintain production of
the 2007 model year vehicles concurrent with change-over and pilot production
for the new 2008 model year minivans. The system carries the under-body
components for minivans and the Chrysler Pacifica on the same line,
eliminating the need for separate conveyor lines for each product.
    New, flexible robotic lines were added to weld the new minivan's body
sides and under-body sub-assemblies, which will accommodate future models and
product variants at reduced investment levels. Once assembled, more than
350 points on the minivan's body frame will be checked automatically for weld
precision and dimensional quality.
    In the Trim, Chassis and Final area, new processes also were developed to
install safety features.
    Originally built in 1928, the Windsor Assembly Plant is currently the
largest of Chrysler's 14 assembly plants at 4.01 million square feet. In 2003,
Windsor Assembly became one of the first Chrysler plants to implement the
flexible manufacturing strategy. This year marks the plant's 24th anniversary
of minivan production and the 14th anniversary of three shifts of operation.
The plant employs 4,800 people.
    The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country will be in
dealerships in the fall of 2007.

    Additional information and news from DaimlerChrysler is available on the
Internet at:

For further information:

For further information: Ed Saenz, (519) 561-9571 (office), (519)
981-1362 (cell),

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