Production of the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs is under way at Chrysler LLC's Saltillo Assembly Plant in Saltillo, Mexico. The Saltillo Plant -- which also produces the Dodge Ram Mega Cab, Dodge Ram Power Wagon, Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 models, and Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cab -- takes on production of the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs as part of the Chrysler’s Flexible Manufacturing Strategy (FMS).
To support new commercial vehicle production, Chrysler recently invested an additional $48 million into the plant, resulting in a 120,000-square-foot expansion that allows the plant to produce commercial vehicles and accommodate new frame configurations. This follows an additional $210 million investment into the plant for production of the all-new 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab in 2005. Dodge Ram 4500/5500 production got under way in July 2007, with the first vehicles reaching Dodge commercial vehicle dealerships in November.
In addition to increased production capacity, the expansion enables the plant to manage the greater complexity of the all-new 2008 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs. This includes commercial-grade chassis and suspensions, four wheelbases (144, 168, 192 and 204 inches) and cab-axle lengths (60, 82, 105 and 120 inches), regular cab and Quad Cab configurations, two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models, and three trim lines -- ST, SLT and Laramie. All models are “job-rated,” meaning they are designed, engineered, tested and built to meet the rigid standards of commercial truck buyers.
“A continuous showcase of advanced manufacturing capability and adaptability, the Saltillo facility is one of our most versatile plants and a great example of Chrysler’s flexible manufacturing ability,” said Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President - Manufacturing. “Even with the added complexities of commercial vehicle production, we’re not only able to adjust operations to better respond to customer needs, but we’re also better positioned to build a positive business case for new products and derivatives as each plant is able to maximize production capacity.”
The Saltillo Assembly Plant has 2,100 employees working on two shifts and is one of five Chrysler production facilities in Mexico.
Chrysler's Flexible Manufacturing Strategy allows the company to produce a high-quality product faster and at a lower cost. In order to balance production with demand, the FMS approach allows the company to efficiently build lower-volume vehicles that take advantage of market niche and to quickly shift production volumes between different models within a single plant or among multiple plants.
FMS has been implemented product by product and plant by plant across the Chrysler manufacturing enterprise. Creating enhanced efficiencies, new investment is introducing state-of-the-art technology to Chrysler plants enabling the company to produce more than one vehicle on a production line and conduct rolling launches of new models. Chrysler's workforce is also becoming more flexible with the implementation of team concepts and an increased emphasis on supporting assembly line operators.