The launch of the brand Dodge in Europe helps the Chrysler Group said its ambitions European (1): 1.4 of the market in 2007 over the three brands, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. This is an ambitious goal considering that Chrysler and Jeep sold just over 24,000 vehicles, or 0.6, in Europe in the first three months of the year 2006. To do better than double volumes, the Group developed mainly on the arrival of Dodge and the enlargement of the range Jeep. End of 2007, the three brands will offer 20 different models on the European market: seven variants of body in Jeep, three in ten in Chrysler and Dodge.
The first vehicle that Dodge markets in Europe is the Caliber (see page 7). It will be followed in the first quarter of 2007 by the Nitro, a SUV in size medium square lines. Then the Caliber range to enhance a sports version SRT-4 (2), and will appear a new D segment vehicle. For the suite, the Chrysler Group is looking for partners for the development of a small car from the Hornet concept unveiled at the last Geneva Motor Show.
Such ambitions require levels of quality in line with those in the market. It was not, before the arrival of Daimler Chrysler's strong point. It was one of the priority issues addressed Dieter Zetsche on his arrival in Auburn Hills, the end of 2000. In September 2003, he had said to Automobile & components: "for 2007, we aim to achieve quality levels close to those of Toyota. "Quality is a ticket for entry, it is not a competitive advantage, but a precondition". In the light of the tested vehicles, we can say that the quality of manufacture is well present: no noise, nor gnashing, while body berths are well made and the games are scheduled. Chrysler evokes cost of guarantee has fallen by 40 in the last three years. For the design of the Caliber, Dodge had identified some targets benefits on some competing vehicles. For handling, it was "the Ford Focus, especially for his behavior" States John P. Dolan, Senior Manager in charge of the synthesis of the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass in the Front Wheel Drive Product Team.
The Belvidere plant upgrade
The Dodge Caliber is produced in Illinois at the Belvidere plant. Before producing the Neon, this site is now capable of producing three different vehicles (3) based on same platform. In absolute terms, this is not a record, but for Chrysler, it is notable and this progress, more than the invested amounts ($419 million) would have previously allowed to produce only a single Variant. Indeed, John P. Dolan adds: "it is possible to prepare a fourth vehicle production without disrupting the production of the other three." The production process is the same for all vehicles, whereas previously the cars destined for Europe or branch markets right spent in specific workshops. Note that the body shop is now 780 robots capable of assembling a Fund every 45 seconds.
Moreover, the site uses new logistics principles for feed production line. A supply, led by TDS/US, centre of 46,000 m2, performs some actions of kitting, ensures the sequencing of parts and sub-assemblies delivered to the vehicle assembly line. This centre is connected to the plant by a tunnel. Compared to the previous principles, this system provides a cost reduction of 12 across the upstream logistic function. The use of the modules is more intensive than before. Thus, the cockpit is pre-assembled by the AndroÃ¯d Corporation, which also delivers the complete drivetrain. Currently, the plant operates in two teams and produces 1,200 cars a day.
(1) This offensive materialise as early as the Mondial Automobile 2006 where the Chrysler Group will have a booth of 1.800 m2, against 1,600 m2 for Mercedes.
(2) With his turbocharged 2.4 engine, the SRT-4 issued 306 HP and 350 Nm, which will be much for single nosewheel. Indeed, a 172 HP 2.4 version four wheel drive is in the US.
(3) In addition to the Caliber, it's the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot.