Chrysler slashing 13,000 jobs

Chrysler [tag]Chrysler[/tag] Group will cut 13,000 [tag]job[/tag]s, close an assembly plant in [tag]Delaware[/tag] and eliminate shifts at two other plants in a restructuring announced today.

Chrysler, the U.S. unit of [tag]DaimlerChrysler[/tag] AG, has fallen on the same hard times as the other domestic automakers: General Motors and Ford. Among other things, it relies too heavily on light trucks when drivers’ tastes are shifting to cars and car-based utility vehicles.

It employs about 81,000 globally. Job cuts will start this year and be complete by 2009, with 11,000 of the reductions to come from union ranks in the U.S. and Canada.

The latest cuts come after Chrysler lost $1.5 billion in the third quarter and is expected to report a full-year loss of $1.2 billion today. Chrysler said it expects to be profitable in 2008.

A 2001 restructuring at the automaker included cutting 19,000 hourly jobs and 7,000 white-collar jobs-20 percent of Chrysler’s workforce-mostly through early retirement. Six plants were closed then.

The job cuts at Chrysler will reduce by 400,000 the number of vehicles that operations can produce each year.

The Delaware plant, which makes the slow-selling Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen mid-sized sport utility vehicles, employs about 2,100 workers. Chrysler plans to close it in 2009, with a shift reduction this year.

The Warren, Mich., truck plant, with 3,313 hourly employees, makes the Dodge Ram and Dakota pickups, which saw sales decline last year. Chrysler plans to eliminate a shift there this year.

The other plant to lose a shift is the St. Louis South assembly plant, which makes Chrysler and Dodge minivans. It has 2,850 workers and would lose the shift in 2008.

The Cleveland-area parts distribution center would be close sometime this year, Chrysler said.

DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said the company is looking into “further strategic options with partners” for Chrysler.

“In this regard we do not exclude any option in order to find the best solution for both the Chrysler Group and DaimlerChrysler,” Zetsche said in a statement.

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