DaimlerChrysler has agreed to build a $400 million paint shop at its underutilized Pillette Road Truck Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, a move that will prepare the plant for a new product.
The new paint shop is spelled out in the three-year agreement that the Canadian Auto Workers reached earlier this month with DaimlerChrysler.
While the contract does not stipulate what new product will be assembled at the plant, it probably will be the f ull-sized sport-utility the automaker has on the drawing board for the 2003 model year or a derivative of the Mercedes-Benz M-class sport-utility.
DaimlerChrysler plans to build a big sport-utility off the redesigned Dodge Ram full- sized truck platform, due in the 2002 model year.
The Pillette Road plant now assembles the full-sized Dodge Ram Van and Wagon.
'The growth potential of the large van/wagon market seems limited, at best, as consumers continue to fav or minivans and sport-utility products,' the new contract states.
The contract says DaimlerChrysler has made provisions in its five-year manufacturing plan to construct a new paint facility. The union agrees to work with the compan y to improve productivity and consider the introduction of job rotation at the plant.
Ken Lewenza, CAW Local 444 president in Windsor, said the new paint shop will improve job security for the plant's 2,000 workers. According to L ewenza, DaimlerChrysler estimates its cost to be $400 million.
'With this new paint shop, the company is saying to us that this plant will be around for the long haul,' Lewenza said.
DaimlerChrysler did not specify during negotiati ons which new vehicle could be assembled at the plant, Lewenza said.