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Chrysler plants to cease work on select vehicles
Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News
DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group will suspend production of some models in January to help reduce bloated inventories, several dealers said Wednesday.
Affected models include some minivans, the Dodge Ram pickup, Jeep Commander and Liberty SUVs, the Dodge Magnum station wagon and the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
To further pare its vehicle stockpile, Chrysler will build only 1,000 units each next month of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, midsize Dodge Dakota pickup, Chrysler 300 sedan and Aspen SUV next month.
The cuts will idle all or part of production at several plants, including the Jefferson North Jeep plant in Detroit and the Dodge pickup factory in Warren.
The automaker, which typically makes its weekly production plans public, declined to confirm the shutdowns, which will extend the normal holiday break. But dealers who asked not to be named told The Detroit News that an internal e-mail specifically named the models that won't be produced in January.
Chrysler's excess inventory had ballooned to 164,000 units of 2006 models at the end of November.
The automaker is temporarily halting production next month as it tries to rebound from a $1.5 billion third-quarter loss that resulted from lackluster sales this year. The automaker estimates a full-year loss of $1.2 billion.
Other factories impacted by the January production changes are in St. Louis; Newark, Del.; Toledo, Ohio and Windsor, Ontario.
As recently as last month, Chrysler shared news of the coming down weeks with workers at several affected plants, but some workers fear rumors will prove true that the shutdowns will continue beyond January.
"Not knowing how long we're going to be off is a big deal," said Theresa Horn, who works at Jefferson North where the Jeep Commander and Grand Cherokee are built. "They were running production three Saturdays in a row only to lay us off."
 
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