Chrysler to Incorporate Green Features in Detroit Plant Expansion

Chrysler to Incorporate Green Features in Detroit Plant Expansion

Chrysler plans to invest $1.8 billion in a new vehicles program and expansion of a Detroit assembly plant that will include a slew of environmentally friendly improvements.

The green initiatives are expected to knock several dollars off the cost of producing each vehicle at the Jefferson North Detroit assembly plant. The location, which builds the Jeep Cherokee and Commander, will see a 285,000 square-foot expansion that will replace an existing body shop. Production of new models will begin at the plant in 2010. 

Many of the environmentally-focused efforts have been tried and perfected at previous facilities, Spokesman Ed Saenz told GreenBiz.com Wednesday. Chrysler, like other automakers, including Ford and General Motors, will convert paint sludge into energy to reduce waste at the Jefferson North Detroit plant. Chrysler also sends paint waste from two St. Louis, Mo., plants to power plants for energy conversion through its "Paint to Power" program.

The company redesigned trailer cubing that allows materials to be transported in a nested formation to reduce the number of trucks moving in and out of the facility. Chrysler also will introduce a new energy management system and efficient lighting fixtures to the Jefferson North Detroit plant to curb consumption. A new air filtration system will improve indoor air quality, while new electric-servo weld guns will trim noise. The company will reuse a range of materials, such as parts racks and paint clips that hold doors in place during painting.

Outside, the company will replace the asphalt in unused parking lots with prairie grass, Saenz said. "It doesn't need water and it's native to the area," Saenz said. "We had success with it in Dundee, Mich. It looks better but requires less maintenance ... It also fosters wildlife."