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Chrysler plans unibody, fuel-efficient Grand Cherokee

'Automotive News' reports on Chrysler's plans for a new, fuel efficient Grand Cherokee.

Automotive News

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.--Chrysler LLC will make its next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2010 with a unibody construction and a fuel-efficient V-6 engine being developed under the code-name Phoenix, Chrysler Co-president Tom LaSorda said.

The automaker will spend $1.8 billion to refit its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit to produce the Grand Cherokee and other undisclosed vehicles off the same platform, LaSorda told reporters over lunch last week at the Management Briefing Seminars here.

Chrysler worked with Mercedes-Benz to develop the platform, he said.

The expanded Detroit plant will be flexible to allow multiple vehicle models to be built on the same assembly line, LaSorda indicated. In his speech at the conference, LaSorda said the expansion and new-vehicle program will help create 400 jobs in Michigan.

The plant now builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander.

In other remarks, LaSorda said, "One advantage of private ownership is that we can sell nonearning assets to generate cash." He said Chrysler has "identified over $1 billion in assets" that could be sold. He said the automaker has sold more than $500 million in assets, including land around its suburban Detroit headquarters and its Tritec engine plant in Brazil.

LaSorda also said the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram pickup would be priced at $22,170. That's a drop in price from last year's model. A 2008 Ram with similar features had a sticker price of $23,050 and didn't include an automatic transmission, which a Chrysler spokesman said will come standard on the new Ram.

During the media luncheon, LaSorda added that Chery Automobile Co. is making a number of engineering changes to a small car that it is developing with Chrysler.

He said the subcompact car could be ready for sale next year.

(Source: Automotive News)