Monday, August 10, 2009

Chrysler To Boost Dodge Ram Pickup Production

DETROIT -(Dow Jones)- Chrysler Group LLC is intensifying its production boost as demand from the federal government's "Cash for Clunkers" program continues to reduce the number of available vehicles on dealer lots.

The auto maker notified employees at the Warren Truck assembly plant that they will work overtime Saturday shifts on Aug. 29, Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, according to two United Auto Worker sources. Additional overtime may also be scheduled in October. The plant produces the Dodge Ram 1500 and Dodge Dakota.

Chrysler spokesman Max Gates had no comment.

Chrysler, along with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. (F) are attempting to respond to new demand without relapsing into its traditional habit of producing too much product and then relying on incentives to reduce the inventory.

The auto industry was hit with a surge in buying from the unexpected success spawned by the "Cash for Clunkers" program. The program gave a discount of up to $4,500 to those who traded-in their gas guzzlers for a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Consumers overwhelmed the program which further reduced already low dealer inventories. Auto makers, for the past six months, had cut most of their production in response to a slowdown in U.S. sales amid the recession.

Last week, the government granted another $2 billion to continue funding the program.

Chrysler has been the most aggressive in increasing output. The auto maker returned its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant to three shifts Monday and ran its Toldeo plant on overtime last week. The Toledo plant produces the Jeep Wrangler while the Windsor factory assembles the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country and Volkswagen Routan.

Chrysler also idled all of its plants for almost two months during its bankruptcy process in May and June. The company has since merged the majority of its assets with Fiat SpA (FIATY)

General Motors and Ford are also considering production increases although both have yet to confirm such a move. Truck, Challenger, Caliber, Charger, Grand Caravan, Journey, Dakota, Avenger, Viper, Nitro, Durango

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