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Chrysler to close 2 plants in 2008

From Reuters| February 14,2007

The Chrysler group will close two manufacturing plants in the third quarter of 2008 in an effort to boost capacity utilization and stem costs, a German magazine reported.

Citing industry sources, Auto Motor und Sport said the Chrysler group will close the Newark, Del., plant where the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs are built, and the St. Louis North factory in Missouri that manufactures the Dodge Ram full-sized pickup.

The magazine released a summary of the report before publication on Wednesday, Feb. 14, when DaimlerChrysler is set to release details of a reorganization plan for the Chrysler group.

Production of the Durango and Aspen would shift to the Jefferson North plant in Detroit, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander are made, according to the report.

Dodge Rams that were manufactured in St. Louis North would then be produced in the automaker's Warren, Mich., plant that already builds Rams as well as the smaller Dodge Dakota pickup.

The two closures should help raise the utilization rate at Chrysler to over 90 percent, the magazine said.

Speculation ahead of the restructuring plan's announcement had mainly centered on at least two plant closures and 10,000 job cuts. Chrysler employed 82,330 staff at the end of September.

The St Louis North plant employs around 2,330 workers and the Newark plant 2,000, according to the Chrysler group's Web site.

Chrysler has 14 assembly plants, 11 powertrain plants, two stamping operations, two component plants and six technical centers in North America.

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