DETROIT -- The Chrysler group will spend more than $500 million to upgrade an assembly plant and stamping plant in suburban Detroit to build its next generation of mid-sized sedans.
The Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant will begin building the replacements for the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedans in late 2006. Today the plant builds the current Stratus and Sebring sedans and the Sebring convertible.
Chrysler is spending $278 million at the assembly plant to overhaul the body assembly shop and upgrade the paint shop.
The changes include installing 620 new flexible robots and fixtures. That will enable the plant also to build the replacement for the Dodge Neon, if needed. The Neon replacement will be launched at the automaker's assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill.
The automaker is spending $228 million on upgrades at the nearby Sterling Stamping plant and stamping operations inside the Sterling Heights assembly plant.
At the stamping plant, the money will buy 50 new, more flexible material handling and welding robots that can handle more than one product design on the same line. The plant will also switch to lean die standards. The changes will cut costs by 45 percent, the automaker says.
The assembly and stamping plants employ a total of about 5,000 workers.