Chrysler Group LLC announced on Feb. 2 that it will add about 1,800 jobs at its Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant (BVP), which includes the addition of a third crew and hundreds of jobs for production of the all-new Dodge Dart, by the third quarter of 2012.
Included in the 1,800 positions are nearly 500 jobs being added to launch production of the Dodge Dart in the second quarter of 2012. When all hiring is complete, the BVP employee population will increase from 2,700 to more than 4,500.
The last time BVP ran three shifts was in March 2008 when there were about 3,600 employees.
This brings to 4,000 the number of hourly jobs added in the U.S. since the formation of the new company in June 2009.
In addition to the jobs announcement, Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne said the previously announced $600 million investment in a new 638,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art body shop had grown to nearly $700 million. The investment also included the installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment exclusively for the production of the Dodge Dart.
"It was not by chance that we chose Belvidere to make this investment and build the new Dodge Dart," Marchionne told employees. "Our decision is evidence of the faith we have in your level of commitment and your passion to deliver great products for our customers. You have been essential in our ability to author a remarkable story of recovery.
The new jobs will be added as part of an innovative operating pattern that allows the plant to run an additional 49 days per year, the company said in a statement. The 3-2-120 schedule, as the operating pattern is called, utilizes three crews, working four 10-hour straight-time days per week for a total of 120 hours of production time. A typical two shift production schedule provides 80 hours per week of production time. Compared to a traditional plant schedule, individual employees on a 3-2-120 schedule work 49 fewer days per year, but the plant operates 49 more days.
Belvidere is the first facility to build a Chrysler Group vehicle featuring a Fiat-derived architecture, adapted from Alfa Romeo Giulietta. In addition to the Dodge Dart, the Belvidere Assembly Plant currently builds the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot.
"The truth is that you are working in a plant that is an example of the kind of mosaic we aim to create between our two companies, Chrysler and Fiat," said Marchionne. "A mosaic in which each piece has a clear identity and yet is interconnected with the other pieces, forming a strong overall design."