DETROIT — Chrysler Group LLC said Wednesday it will end production of the Dodge Ram at its St. Louis North Assembly plant next month, as shrinking sales made it impractical to continue producing the truck at two locations.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker said the last truck will roll off the assembly line July 10. The plant is currently closed, but it will open for two weeks beginning Monday to fulfill orders that were halted when Chrysler idled all of its plants after the company filed for bankruptcy protection April 30.
Chrysler Group emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month as it sold its "good" assets to Fiat Group SpA. Its "bad assets," which include the St. Louis North plant and four others, are slated to shut down by the end of the year. Those plants will eventually be sold off by the old company, Chrysler LLC.
Two additional plants — the St. Louis South plant and an assembly plant in Newark, Del. — were idled last year, and an axle plant in Detroit was already scheduled to be replaced by a new factory near Port Huron, Mich.
Although the Dodge Ram pickup truck is Chrysler's most popular vehicle, the company had a 115-supply of the trucks at the end of May, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank. Sales of the Dodge Ram fell 29 percent in the first five months of 2009 compared with the same period a year earlier.
About 1,200 hourly workers are employed at the St. Louis South plant. Chrysler said it would offer them jobs at the new company's factories. Those who do not move to another plant are eligible for a retirement or severance package.
Chrysler Group plans to restart seven assembly plants at the end of June. The company said last week that besides St. Louis, factories in Sterling Heights and Warren, Mich.; Toledo, Ohio; Brampton and Windsor, Ontario; and Toluca, Mexico, would restart operations June 29. A plant in Detroit that makes the Dodge Viper sports car restarted earlier this month.
Parts stamping, engine and transmission factories that feed the assembly plants also will restart Monday.