<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT"%> ROCKCRAWLER.com - First All-New 2002 Dodge Ram Truck Rolls Off The Production Line in St. Louis

Dodge Trucks
First All-New 2002 Dodge Ram Truck
Rolls Off The Production Line in St. Louis

Dodge RamAuburn Hills, Michigan, Jul 24, 2001 - The first all-new 2002 Dodge Ram Truck rolled off the assembly line today at the Chrysler Group's St. Louis North Assembly Plant (SLNAP), which is the beginning of a three-plant production ramp-up that will create the capacity to build more than 400,000 Dodge Ram trucks annually.

The plant held a Job One ceremony today, marking the first day customer-ready vehicles began rolling off the production line. Joseph L. Driskill, Missouri Director of Economic Development; and Dennis J. Hancock, Mayor of Fenton; joined Dieter Zetsche, President & CEO of Chrysler Group; hundreds of employees; and company, community and union leaders at the ceremony. As part of the event, Zetsche test drove a new Dodge Ram, declaring that SLNAP was ready for volume production.

Zetsche also announced a new product for the plant: the all-new Dodge Ram 2500 heavy-duty truck coming next year.

"The all - new Dodge Ram will once again set a new benchmark in the truck segment by improving and amplifying every area of the truck, from design to handling to performance and capability," said Dieter Zetsche, Chrysler Group President and CEO. "The same words that describe the new Dodge Ram- powerful, capable, versatile, reliable- apply to all people who have worked so hard to bring this truck to the market, from the people here at the plant, to all the engineers and suppliers throughout the value chain."

Dodge RamThe flexibility of SLNAP enabled the company to reach quality targets much earlier in the pre-launch phase by building early prototype vehicles on the production line to validate processes and train employees. SLNAP will continue to share best practices and lessons learned with Saltillo (Mexico) and Warren Truck Assembly Plants (Detroit) as they begin ramping up Dodge Ram production in August and September.

"The men and women of the St. Louis North team, along with our other stamping, powertrain and component plants, have stepped up to the plate to make this a successful launch," said Gary Henson, Chrysler Group Executive Vice President Manufacturing. "The flexibility of our truck operations will allow us to adjust volume as needed, while running at higher utilization rates, which is much more efficient. Likewise, as part of our restructuring, we are consolidating our truck operations to bring our capacity more in line with the market."

With next year's closing of the Lago Alberto Assembly Plant (Mexico), the company will consolidate its truck production from four to three truck plants.

The company invested $480 million in SLNAP to launch the new Dodge Ram, including the addition of an all new 360,000 sq. ft. body shop. The flexibility of the plant enabled the company to build more than 700 pre-production trucks prior to launch in order to validate quality levels.

"The team has been working really hard, not only to prepare for this launch, but making significant improvements in quality and efficiency," said Jim Nihls, SLNAP Plant Manager. "Through their continued hard work they earned the new heavy-duty 2500 truck, and it was fitting that it was announced today."

SLNAP has the capacity to produce 150,000 trucks annually, or 592 per day with 2,800 employees on a normal, two-shift operation. The plant has the flexibility to produce Regular and Quad Cab; S+, SLT, SLT+ and Sport; 4x4 and 4x2; 3.7-liter V-6, 4.7-liter V-8 and 5.9-liter V-8 versions of the all-new 2002 Dodge Ram.

By using a combination of statistical process controls and performance feedback systems (PFS), the company is error proofing its production processes to ensure top quality. The system is designed to halt production if quality build criteria are not met. For example, if a bolt isn't tightened to the degree specified (measured through the torque wrench which is connected to the PFS system) the specific operation will shut down until it has been corrected.

The Company also inspects vehicles throughout body, paint and assembly processes, as well as a series of tests after the vehicles roll off the final assembly line. Once complete, the vehicles are tested on an evaluation course at the facility.


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