Chrysler may add third shift at Illinois plant to build the Dart image

Chrysler Group is considering adding a third shift at its Belvidere, Illinois plant to satisfy the demand expected for the new Dodge Dart sedan.

The 2013 Dodge Dart will replace the poor-selling Caliber hatchback and will be introduced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. A four-door sedan, the Dart will be based on a Fiat platform and will share components with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Chrysler has announced it will invest $600 million to expand output at the Belvidere plant by the end of this year. According to the Detroit News, which quotes a highly placed source, Chrysler will add a third shift to the 2,500 workers currently at the plant.

“Chrysler Group LLC is currently exploring ways to increase production at its Belvidere Assembly Plant. One of the options being studied is the addition of a third shift. However, at this time, the company has made no official announcements about future employment plans in Belvidere,” Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement.

The Belvidere plant currently makes the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. Dart aside, the facility will also build the Jeep compact crossover that will replace the Compass and the Patriot in 2013. The addition of the Dart will basically allow Fiat to claim an additional 5 percent stake in Chrysler under the 2009 bailout terms which say Chrysler must build a sedan capable of 40 mpg in the U.S.