Survey: Chrysler Tops In Productivity Improvement

By Agence France-Presse DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group posted the greatest productivity gains at its North American manufacturing plants last year, according to a survey of six leading automakers released June 10. Those automakers were Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. The influential Harbour Report on automotive manufacturing efficiency ranked Chrysler the most improved automaker, with a 7.8% year-over-year overall productivity improvement in 2003. The automaker's productivity gain helped it surge past rival Ford Motor Co. in overall productivity for the first time in the report's 15-year history. "Chrysler Group pulled off another impressive performance in this year's Harbour Report," said Ron Harbour, president of Harbour Consulting, Troy, Mich. More broadly, the report found that productivity was up across the board. All six automakers with assembly, stamping and powertrain operations in North America made strides in containing labor costs associated with parts manufacturing and vehicle assembly last year, the authors of "The Harbour Report North America 2004" said. General Motors Corp. posted a 5.2% overall gain, chalking up its sixth consecutive year of gains, while the Ford Motor Co. was up 3.4%. Of the foreign plates included in the report, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. was the most improved, with a 7.1% year-over-year hike, followed by Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. at 4.4% and Toyota Motor Corp. with 3.9%, based on a partial accounting of their North American plants. Nissan had the most efficient North American vehicle assembly plant last year, according to the Harbour report. Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn. plant, which assembles the Nissan Altima sedan, again set the benchmark for labor productivity with an average of 15.33 labor hours per vehicle. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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