DaimlerChrysler recently announced a $1 billion investment in its Mexican Manufacturing and Supplier Operations, to modernize and re-tool the facilities and to create new industrial parks for suppliers. The investment, the bulk of which will take place in 2006, includes upgrades to the Toluca Assembly Plant, the creation of two supplier parks, and additional operational improvements.

The investment will provide the Toluca facility with the flexibility to manufacture derivative models on one assembly line.

"The decision to invest in Mexico would not have been possible without the support of the union and the Mexican government's commitment to the automotive sector," said Chrysler Group Chief Operating Officer Eric Ridenour. "Our Mexican Manufacturing Operations have earned this investment by embracing flexible work force processes."

Mexico President Vicente Fox and Ridenour made the announcement along with plant employees, Mexico Governor Enrique Pena Nieto; DaimlerChrysler Mexico President and Managing Director Joe ChamaSrour; DaimlerChrysler Mexico Vice President of Manufacturing Roberto Gutierrez; and DaimlerChrysler de Mexico General Union Leader Hugo Diaz Covarrubias.

The improvements at the Toluca Assembly Plant will include an all-new body shop with state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities. New robotics will have the capability to make necessary tool changes automatically within cycle time, thus amplifying the plant's flexibility.

The Toluca Assembly Plant will have the capability to vary its product mix to better respond to customer demand.

The newly built and jointly funded supplier parks will enhance plant operations and focus on increasing modular assembly systems. The supplier parks will provide head liners, cockpits, front-end modules and front and rear suspensions. The location of the supplier parks, near the Toluca facility, will provide just-in-time production for the plant.

The ceremony also marked the roll-off of the 1 millionth Chrysler PT Cruiser which is built at the Toluca Assembly Plant. The Chrysler PT Cruiser launched in March 2000 and is available globally in sedan and convertible models. Toluca builds both models.

"The roll-out of the 1 millionth Chrysler PT Cruiser was achieved through a continuous improvement in productivity and dedication to quality manufacturing and the fact that our Toluca plant is now one of the top-ranked Chrysler Group manufacturing facilities in quality measures," said Gutierrez. "The bottom line is that consumers are demanding more of our remarkable products, and our plant employees played a key role in the growth, flexibility and success of the plant."