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by George Skentzos

American car makers are quickly shedding their straight-line performance stereotype with models like the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Dodge Viper ACR blitzing much higher priced European offerings around the track.

Emphasising this pursuit of handling prowess, Chrysler LLC has today announced the formation of a new axle manufacturing alliance with ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

Included in the program is a family of front and rear-wheel drive axles based on proprietary ZF designs and a Chrysler-designed rear-wheel drive axle.

“Advanced axle technologies are key to our powertrain offensive, aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of our products. And working with a partner allows us to reduce development costs and capital investment requirements.” said Chrysler LLC President and Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda.

Widely regarded worldwide as a leading supplier of driveline and chassis technology, ZF is among the 15 largest automotive suppliers in the world, employing approximately 58,000 staff at 119 locations in 25 countries.

The partnership will result in a phased from current Detroit Axle-centred operations to a 700,000 square-foot Marysville facility which is currently under construction, with a target production launch in early 2010.

“This partnership with Chrysler and the UAW further demonstrates ZF’s intention to increase market presence with axles and to use this as a foundation for future explorations with additional customers,” said ZF CEO Hans-Georg Haerter.

The new facility is expected to produce approximately 500,000 axles each year, ensuring the retention of Chrysler employees who may be able to take on additional work at the Marysville Plant.




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