Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chrysler News:Chrysler shutters 3 plants after brief reopening

Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
February 5, 2009 - 12:01 am ET

DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC, hobbled by shrinking sales and soaring inventories, shut down three assembly plants Monday after reopening them two weeks ago.

Detroit-area factories that make the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander, and Dodge Ram 1500 and Dakota had resumed production on Jan. 20 following an extended holiday shutdown.

"It's always about managing product and dealer inventory," Chrysler spokesman Dave Elshoff said. "If dealer inventory is high, we're not going to build on inventory."

He said Chrysler will assess reopening the plants on a week-to-week basis.

Chrysler, which posted a 55 percent decline in January sales, said it finished the month with 359,980 vehicles in stock, or a 151-day supply. That's more than twice the 60-day level considered normal.

Chrysler has been asking dealers to buy vehicles to help it stay solvent. The automaker has received a $4 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Treasury and says it needs $3 billion more to survive.

The company is also planning on an alliance with Italy's Fiat S.p.A. that would bring small, fuel-efficient cars to North America.

Most of the vehicles made at the three Michigan factories had sharper sales declines in January than the company itself. The plants, their products and January sales:

Sterling Heights Assembly -- Chrysler sold 1,943 Sebrings and 2,171 Avengers, down 79 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

Jefferson North Assembly -- Jeep sold 3,124 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 1,072 Commanders, down 60 percent and 71 percent, respectively.

Warren Truck -- Dodge sold 12,843 Ram pickups and 1,459 Dakotas, down 35 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

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