What is the time frame for a flexible manufacturing strategy?
We said we were not going to do a wholesale tear-up. We never intended to shut down a bunch of locations and change everything.
(It will be) as we go model year to model year. It has been growing. Belvidere is phase one. St. Louis South will get basically the same level of flexibility.
How many models will you build in a flexible assembly plant such as St. Louis South?
Our standard rollout is three-plus-one (three platforms plus one pilot model). We've also looked at four-plus-one (four platforms plus one pilot model). St. Louis will be in that three- or four-plus-one range.
Three models or three platforms?
It can do at least three platforms. The models proliferate from there.
Do they have to be three car platforms or three body-on-frame truck platforms?
St. Louis South will run unibody only.
In your flexibility strategy, will the plants be one or the other?
We can mix body-on-frame and unibody. The question is, is there a need? We're not going to put in flexibility for flexibility's sake. There is no benefit to converting everything to run nine models - (as) some of our competition has said - if you are not going to use it.
We have taken a prudent direction that says we can run three platforms, plus one. That is all we need to set it up for right now.
What is the timing to do three platforms?
There isn't a master timing chart that says by 2011 you must be able to do this. We've said as the product portfolio rolls out, we will move through the system. We are treating flexibility more like a tool in a toolbox than we are treating it as a mandate.
What is your capacity utilization in 2005, and what do you expect it to be in 2006?
I am not going to tell you.
In how many assembly plants will you run three shifts?
It depends on market demand.
When will you decide on three shifts at Belvidere assembly?
Sometime during the coming calendar year, depending on the market.
When will you decide on three shifts in Toledo, Ohio?
Depending on market, sometime in the coming calendar year or shortly thereafter. You are not going to three shifts if you don't have demand.
Brampton (Ontario) and Dodge City (in Sterling Heights, Mich.) run back-to-back eight hours, which a lot of people said would never work. Back-to-back eights is almost unheard of in an assembly plant. It runs, and it works.
We don't want to add more assets. We want to optimize all of our assets and get the highest level of utilization we can.
Will three shifts at existing plants satisfy your capacity needs for the foreseeable future?
You haven't had quality problems doing three shifts of eight hours each?
No, we haven't. Both at Brampton and at Dodge City we have seen improvements when we went to back-to-back eights. Tom (LaSorda, Chrysler group CEO) brought the idea forward. I will be honest with you. When he first suggested it, it was like, "You've got to be kidding me." In fact, it was a seamless transition. It has worked well.
Is the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Dundee, Mich., which will supply four-cylinder engines, on schedule?
It is on schedule. Right now we are just launching it.
Is Chrysler's bogey still to match Toyota vehicle quality by 2007?
The bogey is to be one of the best in the industry by 2007.
What is the biggest hurdle?
In our organization, the biggest challenge is to get the entire organization to understand how important it is to empower people, to be able to listen to them, to have them actively engaged in the day-to-day business at every level.
What is the impediment to that?
It is just cultural. This industry has spent years telling people to check their brains at the door. We can't have that happen. It is a huge change.