Chrysler Group says it has achieved a significant milestone by improving its overall manufacturing efficiency by 8.3 percent in 2002 compared to 2001, according to The Harbour Report North America 2003. The results are the best year-over-year improvement in the company's history and the second best of any auto manufacturer since The Harbour Report's inception in 1981, says the company. "It is rare to see an automaker improve in one year as much as the Chrysler Group did in The Harbour Report," said Ron Harbour, president of Harbour and Associates, Inc. "The breadth of their improvement shows the consistency of their approach, and that they have the foundation for greater achievements down the road." The Chrysler Group says it has been committed to becoming more efficient, in order to increase its competitiveness. As a result, every one of the company's plants in North America (assembly, engine, transmission and stamping) posted a gain in manufacturing efficiency in 2002. "These broad-based achievements underscore the consistency of the company's manufacturing strategy," stated Tom LaSorda, executive vice president of manufacturing for Chrysler Group. "We've set high standards and we intend to live up to them. This is a long journey, but you don't get to be a leader in productivity without setting objectives and making steady progress toward them. This is a solid step in the right direction." LaSorda credits efficiencies across all of the Chrysler Group plants, in the areas of quality, throughput and productivity, as the key reasons why the company had such a significant overall improvement in this year's Harbour Report. Future efforts will continue in these areas, along with a renewed focus on engineering hours per vehicle and common parts sharing, according to the company. The results represent the employees' hard work throughout the plants, the support from the United Auto Workers and other local unions, as well as the work of the support teams who are responsible for helping to achieve the company's productivity goals, says the company. "We know that our workforce is the key to all the equations that make up the Harbour numbers. Machines alone can't produce vehicles; people produce vehicles, and people are behind all the improvements we are seeing in our plants," said LaSorda. "It's through the hard work of Chrysler Group employees that we continually find better ways of doing things, which in the end helps us be more competitive and build better products," stated Nate Gooden, United Auto Workers vice president. "We're in it to be the best, and our membership is working to make it happen." While the results are the best in the Chrysler Group's history, the company says it is still determined to raise its overall ranking versus the competition in future reports. It will focus on improving throughput - the measure of how quickly a vehicle or part can be produced - and continue to evolve its product development strategy, aligning design, engineering and procurement with manufacturing. "The Chrysler Group, with its Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge brands, has been known for its head-turning designs, and that will continue," said LaSorda. "But we will also infuse more discipline into our processes, in order to achieve robust efficiencies. Look for greater efforts, also during product development, to attain long-term improvement in future Harbour Reports." The Harbour Report is one of several efficiency measures the Chrysler Group uses to help improve its operations. Harbour measures hours per vehicle (number of hours worked/number of vehicles produced). Other areas that are tracked include quality, safety, cost and delivery improvements, all of which contribute to manufacturing performance.