Mercedes-Benz helping Chrysler cut $1,000 per vehicle

The Chrysler Group is looking for advice from other DaimlerChrysler divisions on how to cut the cost of each vehicle it produces around $1,000 on average. DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche told CNBC in Paris that executives from Mercedes-Benz in particular were helping put together a plan to make the cost cutting happen. The group advising Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda also includes execs from the company's commercial vehicle operations and some outside consultants.

There are more than a few ways to cut down the cost of the vehicle. Chrysler could close some plants and reduce its excess capacity, a strategy adopted by Ford in its Way Forward plan. Rumors that a Chrysler plant in Newark, Delaware producing the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen could close are out there, which makes sense in light of the automaker's admission it will lose $1.5 billion this quarter because it didn't anticipate the SUV's fall from grace. Chrysler's health care costs for its U.S. workers also adds $1,400 to the price of every vehicle, but the United Auto Workers has already closed the door on giving the automaker any concessions. So where is Chrysler going to scare up a grand per vehicle? Other possibilities include reducing its white-collar workforce, investing in more efficient production techniques, and the last resort, skimping on the cars and trucks it sells by reducing the level of standard equipment offered while holding the price and using less expensive materials.

If Chrysler succeeds, the profit it makes per vehicle would rise from $144 to a margin just below that of Toyota or Honda, the industry leaders in bucks made per vehicle.

[Source: Automotive News]

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