Challengers roll off the line
By Kevin "Crash" Corrigan
8th October 2008
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Are you on the waiting list?
If you're one of the lucky ones waiting to take delivery of your new 2008 Dodge Challenger, then I've got some good news for you. I've just returned from the production launch, which means that your big day is getting that much closer.
Together with members of the media, corporate big wigs, and perhaps the most important of all, the men and woman who actually work on the line, I was at Chryslers Brampton plant to celebrate the return of that famous muscle car nameplate.
Approximately 7000 new Challengers will now start rolling down the line. Out of those, around 700 or so shall be staying in Canada, 100 will be going down Mexico way, and the remainder will be heading Stateside.
Demand from the dealerships is quite high, to put it mildly, and some dealerships will actually have to wait until the 09 model year production starts in August before they'll even have one in their showroom to show their customers.
Only the SRT model is in production at the present. However, an RT and an SE are to be added with the 2009 lineup.
The new Challenger is big news whichever way you look at it, but it is certainly a major achievement for the Brampton Assembly Plant in Ontario, as they beat out several other manufacturing facilities to win the rights to build what Reid Bigland, Chrysler Canada's President and CEO describes as "the company's new Halo car"! He also came up with another phrase which I just loved; he referred to it as "the ultimate mid-life Chrysler"!
The Brampton plant is a very impressive operation indeed, and along with the adjoining Brampton Satellite Stamping Plant, employs approximately 3,200 workers.
This facility occupies 269 acres just north of Toronto and features Chrysler's Flexible Manufacturing Strategy which provides for the production of higher quality products at lower cost. This unique system combines off-the-shelf robotics with customized and interchangeable tooling to build a variety of products on a single assembly line. In fact, at present, there are several models coming down the line, including Dodge Chargers, Chrysler 300's, and of course, now the Challenger SRT.
All on the same assembly line?
The amazing thing is, when you hear the phrase "built on the same assembly line", you don't actually visualize them all coming down the line at the same time, but in fact they do! One minute you're looking at a partially constructed Chrysler 300, and then the next vehicle to come along is a Dodge Charger. In fact, during our tour, we actually only caught an odd glimpse or two of a Challenger under construction. That was until we suddenly turned a corner, and there was the finished product right before our eyes, literally just coming to the end of the line!
Now I don't know if that was purely that luck was on our side, or if it had been carefully staged for us visitors, but it certainly was impressive!
Now that's a word which can be used to describe the Brampton facility, and especially after seeing just how these vehicles are put together. Starting off in the stamping plant where huge machines form the sheet metal panels, we moved on to the first of the assembly areas. It is here that the front underbody panel is connected to the rear and the actual build process begins.
Next, we witnessed the side panels being installed, which could be described as where the cars really start to take shape. At this stage I was quite surprised by the number of computers and robots in use. In fact, it could be said that there were very few human employees in sight and their roles would be better described as purely overseers. However, as we progressed through stage after stage, the process became much more hands on.
We then viewed the driveline components being assembled, and even witnessed these being hoisted up a floor to connect with the body shells. Naturally, from there on, the assembly involves human workers to a much larger degree.
I can honestly say that my somewhat short description truly does not do justice to the process, nor does it portray the fine workmanship of the Chrysler employees who take great pride in what they do.
That became rather apparent at the end of our tour, when many of them joined with us to celebrate the launch. You could see the pride on their faces, and to be honest, I can appreciate that. After all, they are the ones constructing the car which everyone else is waiting for with bated breath. It is also due to their fine workmanship in the past that Canada can now boast that it is truly the home of the Challenger!
I think that we should all thank them for that!
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