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Old 09-28-2009, 09:44 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Chrysler workers rally to save Sterling Heights plant

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About 500 Chrysler workers, retirees and family members sang, chanted and prayed Friday afternoon for the company's board of directors to reconsider closing the Sterling Heights assembly plant by the end of next year.
Meanwhile, the board met at Chrysler's Auburn Hills headquarters to review a plan to update the company's future cars and trucks.
The company had no comment about the board's actions, but it is expected to provide details of its plan to President Barack Obama's automotive task force as early as next week.


Those attending Friday's rally were clear about why Chrysler should preserve the plant that produces its only midsize cars, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger. Chrysler and Fiat excluded the Sterling Heights assembly plant and seven other factories from the taxpayer-financed bankruptcy sale to the new company, of which Fiat owns 20%.


"All of our taxes helped bail this company out," said employee Rebecca Suell. "Since the bankruptcy, there's been no new products assigned to any of Chrysler's U.S. plants."


The company plans to make the Fiat 500 minicar in Toluca, Mexico, and begin selling it in the United States by the end of 2011.


Sales of the 2009 Sebring and Avenger made in Sterling Heights have dropped by more than 50% through the first eight months of the year. Their sales increased last month because many customers participating in the cash-for-clunkers program wanted them, but inventories vanished and Chrysler could not restart production until the program's last few days.


The plant eliminated its second shift in March 2008, and has been idle this year in January and all but two weeks between May 1 and Aug. 24.


CEO Sergio Marchionne has said Fiat has delivered to Chrysler a foundation for a new midsize car that will be shared among Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat's Alfa Romeo brand.


The company has not said where those future cars would be assembled, but workers would like it to be built in Sterling Heights.


"This isn't just about us," said Pat Johnson, an engineer on the assembly line. "We pay taxes here. We support local businesses here, and we build world-class quality cars. A lot of our jobs depend on each other."


Johnson's coworker Rochelle Banks pointed to the shopping center across Van Dyke Avenue and said two or three restaurants have closed this year because of decreased business from plant workers on their 30-minute lunch breaks
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:41 PM   #2
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...and we build world-class quality cars
Delusional? The Sebring and Avenger are not world-class quality cars. Just maybe they (Chrysler/Fiat) will build something there that will be a huge step above the current cars.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:59 PM   #3
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Delusional? The Sebring and Avenger are not world-class quality cars. Just maybe they (Chrysler/Fiat) will build something there that will be a huge step above the current cars.
Sometimes I wonder if they even believe their own crap.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:12 PM   #4
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Although I would agree that they are not exactly known for building world class cars, I do find it a little sad that the 500 is going to be built in Mexico. I am sure there are plenty of cost savings to be had, but it would have been nice to support your own domestic people for once.
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:03 PM   #5
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....but it would have been nice to support your own domestic people for once.
It's a nice thought, but history has proven that no matter what comes out of Americans mouths....we really make our descions based on the dollar. A car sold cheaper because it's made in Mexico (or elsewhere) will sell better than the same car sold higher-but made in the states.
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:26 PM   #6
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I really like the looks of the Avenger. It is distinctive and attractive. The interior design and materials are very far from world class though. I really like Mopar exterior designs which I think are uniquely american in flavor and the new pentastar V6 engine is a world beating design (reliability remains to be seen). Also, as part-owner (i.e. tax payer bailout) of the company, I want them to succeed. Can Fiat fill in the engineering and leadership that has withered away since they were taken over er, I mean merged with Daimler? We shall see...
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:17 PM   #7
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The Avenger is passable, but it highlights the difficulty taking a design based on a box (charger) and forcing it into an egg. The Sebring on the other hand should have been the reason to fire any person who looked at it and said "hmm, that looks good. Let's build it."

While Chevy's Malibu and Ford's Fusion are not going to knock the Camry off #1, they are at least in the conversation. The Sebring should only be purchased at steep discounts.
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