Chrysler Group will add a second shift to its Jefferson North Assembly Plant, according to CEO Sergio Marchionne. The deciding factor for this was the rise by about a third for orders of the redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The second shift, which will result to the hiring of 1,080 workers, will start operations on July 19. Marchionne made the announcement at the production launch ceremony for the vehicle. The plant currently employs 1,700. At the sidelines of the ceremony, Jeep brand CEO Michael Manley said that initial orders are 30-40% higher than they predicted. However, Chrysler didn’t indicate what its volume expectations were. In 2009, Jeep sold 50,328 Grand Cherokees, a 32% drop from the year before. Sales in the SUV segment have generally dropped. Sales of the Grand Cherokee peaked in 1999, with 300,031 units sold. Chrysler is set to build another vehicle at the factory in the fourth quarter. The vehicle will be a seven-seater and will be badged as a Dodge. It will replace the Durango SUV in the Dodge lineup. Meanwhile, the Grand Cherokee is a five-seater.