Chrysler’s Belvidere workers maintain record pace
Workers at Chrysler’s assembly plant in Belvidere will break a 21-year-old production record in December, barring a shutdown or other unforeseen events.
In 1986, Belvidere workers sent 335,298 Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons off to dealers. Through November, they have finished 313,487 Dodge Calibers, Jeep Compasses and Jeep Patriots.
The Belvidere work force needs to complete just 21,812 vehicles this month to break the record. They’ve exceeded that total every month this year except October when the plant was shut down for two weeks to allow dealers to clear out inventory.
Of course, there will be some caveats to the record. The plant was running just two shifts in 1986 compared to three for all of 2007. And that third shift is being eliminated in February 2008 as the company lays off 1,000 of its 3,600 workers because dealers have not been able to sell Calibers, Compasses and Patriots nearly as quickly as workers turned them out.
The production record isn’t guaranteed. Automobile and truck sales are suffering nationwide because consumers are feeling the pinch from higher energy and gasoline costs cutting into wage increases as well as tighter lending standards and little home equity to borrow against making it difficult for consumers to finance pricier new vehicles.
Ford announced Monday that it will idle truck plants in Michigan and Kentucky beginning next week because of slowing sales. General Motors and Chrysler are expected to follow suit. There have been no reports about automobile plants facing temporary closings though.
Assistant Business Editor Alex Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 815-987-1339.