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Stellantis to decommission engine line in Trenton, cut workforce

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Jeep maker Stellantis NV on Thursday said it will decommission an engine line at its Trenton Engine Complex by the end of the year in a move to consolidate production that will result in workforce reductions.

The announcement comes with a $24.7 million investment into the complex's south plant for retooling for a flexible engine line, capable of producing the two variations of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. The north plant will be repurposed for warehousing and other non-manufacturing needs.

The Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine produced at the Trenton Engine Complex is used in Stellantis vehicles such as the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

The decommissioning is a sign of what is to come under the auto industry's transformation to electric vehicles that won't need engines. Stellantis has announced plans for battery manufacturing facilities in Windsor, Ontario, and Kokomo, Indiana. It expects half of its U.S. sales to be all-electric by 2030 and 100% by 2038.

The Trenton complex employs 1,322 workers at both plants. Stellantis declined to provide details on how many people will be affected.

Cindy Estrada, vice president of the United Auto Workers and head of its Stellantis department, said in a statement that the union will discuss with the automaker how it can repurpose the north plant and employ the workers there for the next generation of Stellantis vehicles amid the company's EV transition.

"Any company investment in one of our represented facilities is a good thing. However, the expected reduction in membership at Local 372 is disappointing," Estrada said. "As the auto industry receives taxpayer assistance in the form of incentives and abatements to transition to electrification, our current and future members must be the ones to build the components and assemble the vehicles."

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said the announcement provided a much-needed view on the future for the plant.

“Auto workers at the Trenton Engine Plant have been worried about what the future will hold for them, but today’s announced investment provides clarity," she said in a statement. "While it is disappointing to see the north plant repurposed, the new investments and new engine line for the south plant is positive news."

It is her understanding affected employees will be able to move to other jobs within the company.

"This is the right thing to do and we need to all work together to ensure Stellantis’ presence in Michigan stays strong as we make the critical transition to electrification and advanced mobility," Dingell said.

Under Stellantis' plans, the 3.6-liter engine production currently done at the north plant will be performed at the south facility.

In 2011, the automaker launched the Pentastar engine to drive Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles, streamlining seven V-6 options to one. It was redesigned with improved fuel economy in 2016, and another upgrade is expected to launch for production in the first quarter of 2023.

Stellantis in March also revealed its new Hurricane engine, its inline-6 replacement for the V-8. The Mexico-built Hurricane is making its debut on the Wagoneer L full-size SUV later this year.

The plans for Trenton come after Stellantis earlier this month said it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs at its stamping plant in Sterling Heights. Similar indefinite layoffs have been made at Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, Warren Stamping Plant in Macomb County and the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills. All workers who volunteered for other work opportunities received a job offer, according to the union. 

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble