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DaimlerChrysler confirms $768M investment in Canadian operations

DaimlerChrysler confirmed it will invest $768 million in its Canadian operations after finalizing agreements with the Ontario and federal governments

The company said a new paint facility at its Windsor assembly plant will be in operation by 2007, and the Windsor and Brampton assembly plants will get investments in flexible manufacturing.

Additionally, the company will continue spending on the University of Windsor/DaimlerChrysler Canada Automotive Research and Development Centre.

DaimlerChrysler’s agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union in September included a promise of a $575-million investment in Windsor to build next-generation minivans, but that depended on securing government funding.

The commitments of $46 million from Ottawa and $76.8 million from Ontario taxpayers were also announced months ago but required final approvals.

Monday’s announcement confirming this spending and more came on the same day General Motors said it is cutting 30,000 jobs in North America over the next three years, including about 3,600 in Canada.

DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Kerrey Kerr said the timing was coincidental.

The company intends to spend $610 million over three years at the Windsor plant, where a new robot-operated 185,000-square-foot paint shop “will be the most flexible in the Chrysler Group system, capable of accommodating the dimensions of at least 11 different body styles.”

The Windsor factory, which dates to 1928, is the largest of the Chrysler Group’s 14 assembly plants at just over four million square feet, building the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans as well as the Chrysler Pacifica crossover vehicle.

While the Windsor factory gets $610 million from the announced total of $768 million, Kerr said the company is “not breaking it down further than that” in terms of spending in Brampton or the Windsor research and development centre.

The company said the investment includes money for “skills upgrading and training” at the Brampton plant west of Toronto, which builds Chrysler 300 sedans and Dodge Magnum and Charger muscle cars.

The Windsor R&D centre, covering 205,000 square feet, employs 200 engineers.

“The support of the Ontario and federal governments is instrumental in building the business case for new investments in our Canadian operations,” stated Tom LaSorda, president and CEO of the Chrysler Group.

“With these new investments, DaimlerChrysler’s Canadian manufacturing and R&D operations will continue to play a critical role in the company’s global drive to achieving industry-leading products and benchmark operations.”

LaSorda added that the investment results from “government involvement, a responsible new collective agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union, and ultimately the market response to the products the Chrysler Group manufactures in Canada.”

via The Canadian Press 2005

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