Chrysler Vs. Plastech; Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
chrysler vs plastech damned if they do damned if they dont

So, here we are. The interim agreement between Chrysler and bankrput parts supplier Plastech that kept mission critical car parts flowing is set to expire. Earlier today (Thursday), Chrysler asked a federal judge to let them remove tooling from the bankrupt parts suppliers' premises. If so, Chrysler says they could be up and running with new parts in less than a week. According to Automotive News [AN, sub], Plastech's Veep of Ops called bullshit. "I don't believe that," Donald Coates testified. "There's no way it could be done in 4 or 5 days." So what's the real deal? Matt DeMars, Plastech's president of interior and exterior business, pegged the necessary transition at 24 to 30 months. Coates testified that removing the tooling would mean "four or five assembly plants would be idled within five hours of a shortage… followed by material shortages at 11 or 12 plants within 72 hours, with all plants affected within a week." Richard Schmidt, Chrysler's senior manager of materials supply operations, said "vehicles could be assembled without some parts and wait on a factory lot until the parts are added. But that could create quality problems. Vehicles could be damaged by parts being added out of sequence. Customers also would face delays as their vehicles wait on lots to be completed." Customer delays? In Chrysler's dreams. Meanwhile, Chrysler's nightmare continues…

UPDATE: As we predicted, Judge Phillip Shefferly urged Chrysler and Plastech to extend their interim agreement. Next Tuesday, at 4pm EST, Judge Shefferly will rule on Chrysler's request to remove tooling from the bankrupt parts maker.

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4 of 12 comments
  • Stingray Stingray on Feb 14, 2008

    Ok, I've been reading this site for more than 6 months now. This article makes me throw the BS flag on most anything is written here. To me is quite evident very FEW people around here knows how an assembly plant works, how cars are assembled, whatever. Chrysler will face a lot of lacking parts due to this problem. And as stated, a car can BE assembled with lacking parts, being them key or not. It takes a very careful tracking and control to guarantee quality. They don't state which parts will be in shortage, so a judgement about the effect on quality based on the information given is plain BS. Problem is the mass volume the company handles, which will pile a LOT of incomplete cars. And even so, it's a "problem" that can effectively be solved. You would be surprised to know lacking parts in this media is not a uncommon issue, independent of the brand ;) .

  • 50merc 50merc on Feb 14, 2008

    Is Chrysler's parts supply chain falling apart? I wonder where it gets crankshafts. A neighbor's PT Cruiser suddenly developed a bad oil leak. The dealership told him the rear main and/or crankshaft was defective. Luckily, the car was still under warranty. But unluckily, that was a MONTH ago; the dealership claims it's a common problem with that engine so there's a wait for parts. Anyone else heard this?

  • MPLS MPLS on Feb 14, 2008

    Nobody wants these crap vehicles anyhow.

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Feb 15, 2008

    Moving production tooling for plastic parts from one factory to another is likely to be a problematic process. Precision manufacturing is full of details and optimizations to get things right. Even getting the final color exactly right can be a challenge. Imagine the cars built with a mix of parts from different suppliers and built in different months. How many different shades of gray do you want your interior in???? You also have to wonder about the wisdom of the new suppliers who agree to take on the transferred tooling. Who really wants to get into bed with the three headed dog?