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Sat, Jun 12, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Chrysler tops in auto productivity

EFFICIENCY REPORT The company beat Ford Motor for the first time last year in an annual survey of how many hours it takes to build a new car or truck

AP , DETROIT

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group made the biggest gain in North American manufacturing efficiency last year, passing Ford Motor Co for the first time in a closely watched study of automotive productivity.

Chrysler, which is the smallest of Detroit's Big Three automakers, improved overall productivity by 7.8 percent from 2002 to last year, the second consecutive year it made the biggest jump in the report released on Thursday by Harbour Consulting.

Last year, Chrysler posted an 8.3 percent improvement.

The Harbour Report, published since 1989, tracks how many hours it takes to build a new car or truck -- company by company, plant by plant.

In overall productivity, which includes assembly, stamping and powertrain operations in North America, General Motors was on top at 35.20 hours per vehicle, followed by Chrysler at 37.42 and Ford at 38.60. Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor submitted limited reports and were not included in the overall rankings.

GM, the world's largest automaker, improved its overall ranking 5.2 percent last year, contributing to a 25 percent improvement in the past six years. Ford's overall gain was 3.4 percent last year.

"Manufacturers that are using disciplined, common processes to drive consistent, sustainable improvement are seeing the most progress in the report's measures," said Ron Harbour, president of Troy-based Harbour Consulting.

New United Motoring Manufacturing Inc, the joint venture between GM and Toyota in Fremont, California, led the overall assembly rankings at 21.92 hours per vehicle. Next was GM's lone operations at 23.61 hours per vehicle, Mitsubishi at 25.43, Ford at 25.44 and Chrysler at 26.01.

Among individual plants, Nis-san's Smyrna, Tennessee, factory that produces the Altima ranked at the top of the list at 15.33 hours per vehicle, establishing a new industry standard. Smyrna broke its own mark of 15.74 set last year.

GM's two plants in Oshawa, Ontario, finished second and third at 16.40 and 17.03 hours per vehicle, and its two plants in Lansing were fourth and fifth. Ford's Chicago plant was sixth and its Atlanta plant was seventh.

No Chrysler plants finished in the top 10.

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