Yahoo News has an interesting article about DaimlerChrysler's "flexible manufacturing" process where the company will use a "rolling launch", where production of the new models are steadily ramped up while a current model is scaled back - exactly what we expect to happen with the current generation Jeep Cherokee when the next-generation KJ is introduced. Here's a snippet:
Some auto manufacturers lose up to 10 to 12 weeks of production because they stop manufacturing to install new tooling and equipment before slowly increasing production of the new vehicle, DaimlerChrysler officials said.
The automaker expects to save $100 million with a rolling launch at its Sterling Heights, Mich. assembly plant, where production of the new Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedans and the Sebring convertible will be ramped up in July. The sedans will go on sale in the late summer and the convertible in the fall.
The company has also learned how to build models using different platforms or chassis on the same assembly line during a rolling launch, allowing even more manufacturing flexibility.
"We can do this with two or three different products, which we think is a heads-up over everybody else," Henson said.
Analysts have speculated that the new PT Cruiser, which has received rave reviews since its launch this spring, could be manufactured in Windsor. But company officials privately said production of the station-wagon-like vehicle, which will be expanded to 230,000 units annually from an initial forecast of 120,000, would not be expanded to Windsor.
DaimlerChrysler will also use flexible manufacturing process at its new Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, where production will start up on the Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler in the first half of 2001.
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