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DUNDEE, Mich. - For $13,985, buyers of the Dodge Caliber hatchback get an engine that not only delivers 28 miles a gallon in the city and 32 on the highway, it also has advances previously found only in four-cylinder engines for high-performance and luxury cars.

The Caliber's engine is from the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Dundee, where one factory is building 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter, and 2.4-liter aluminum four-cylinder engines and a second is scheduled to begin production in October.

The largest of the engine trio delivers 172 horsepower and gets 23 miles in the city and 26 in the highway when powering the Illinois-made Caliber.

Timing is ideal for the engine plant, part of a Dundee joint venture of DaimlerChrysler AG, Hyundai Motor Co., and Mitsubishi Motor Corp., said Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Dundee, which has 310 employees including on-site suppliers and has sister plants in Asia, also started supplying Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., plant with 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines for the Jeep Compass last month. It will do the same for the upcoming Jeep Patriot in July.

Fuel economy estimates for those compact sport-utility vehicles built along with the Caliber have not been established. The plant will supply engines for an undisclosed Mitsubishi vehicle in 2008.

"It's important at this time of $3-a-gallon gas … to have fuel-efficient engine options," Mr. Taylor said.

Dundee-made engines feature dual variable valve timing, which improves fuel economy and emissions, said Cole Quinnell, a Chrysler spokesman.

Global Engine also focused on reducing engine noise, vibration, and harshness as well as improving durability, quality, and performance, Mr. Quinnell said.

"People will get a lot more than they expect out of this engine," he said.

Styling combined with good fuel economy have made Caliber, the Dodge Neon's replacement, a hit at Charlie's Dodge in Maumee, said Ken Millen, new vehicle sales manager.

The 26 Calibers allotted to the dealership through July have been spoken for, he said.

The hatchback generally costs about $17,000 with popular options.

"I don't have a single Caliber on my lot right now," said Mr. Millen, voicing a bittersweet problem for various dealers nationwide.

In Dundee, Hyundai is the only partner that hasn't committed to getting the plant's engines, said Dave Elshoff, Chrysler spokesman.

The $800 million two-factory plant will make 840,000 engines a year at full capacity and employ about 530 people. Eventually, Dundee will be the exclusive source for four-cylinder engines in Chryslers, Jeeps, and Dodges.

The plant's labor pact with the United Auto Workers, meanwhile, is a model for other Chrysler factories, including the machining plant in Perrysburg Township that is to be converted to V-6 engine manufacturing.

Workers in Dundee have one job classification, know how to perform every task on the factory floor, go through 500 training hours, put in four 10-hour days each week, and rotate among shifts. At any one time, only about 100 people are working on the factory floor, which is highly automated, Mr. Elshoff said.

Dundee's first factory currently has two work shifts except for the quality area, which has three, but the rest of the operation will gain a third shift in late July, the spokesman said.

The second factory will open with half of its equipment, with the rest to be added as demand increases, he said.

Information about ongoing hiring at the Dundee plant is at


506 Posts
that's pretty interesting... i hope to some day work more in an R&D atmosphere as a machinist for one offs on engine parts....
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