DaimlerChrysler will take the idea of production partnerships to a new level in 2005 when it begins building its global, four-cylinder engines in Dundee, Mich.
The heart of the plan is cooperation among three DaimlerChrysler affiliates - the Chrysler group, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. - to design the engines and the production plant.
The alliance will begin production of the same small and mid-sized engine family in 2004 in Japan for local Mitsubishi production and in South Korea for Hyundai production.
North America is the only market where all three partners will be producing vehicles in 2005.
Total annual global production of the engine is expected to top 1.5 million units.
The company has provided few specifics about the project, which was dubbed the Global Engine Alliance. Some of the plans are still being resolved as Mitsubishi concludes a study of its own North American capacity needs. But this much is certain:
In announcing the engine venture in February, Chrysler group CEO
Dieter Zetsche said, "The engines will reflect the engineering strengths of each of the alliance partners, and representatives of each company will work together to manage the project."
Zetsche also suggested that the operation will rely on suppliers and manufacturing practices that might be more familiar to Mitsubishi and Hyundai than to Chrysler.
"This plant will not be a traditional manufacturing facility," he said. "It will play an important role in creating new powertrain technology for the partner companies.
It will establish new benchmarks in engine content and performance, enjoy significant cost advantages through global sourcing and economies of scale, and operate under contemporary labor agreements."
The project plans to use best practices from all three partners on manufacturing and automation, making the venture what Zetsche called "a true melting pot of cultures."