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Quinn, Chrysler CEO Show Off New Dodge Dart, Built In Illinois

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One of 300 Dodge Darts unveiled at Soldier Field on June 27, 2012, rolls on its way to a dealership. The cars were all made at Dodge's assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill. (Credit: CBS)

One of 300 Dodge Darts unveiled at Soldier Field on June 27, 2012, rolls on its way to a dealership. The cars were all made at Dodge’s assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill. (Credit: CBS)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The production lines are running around the clock at Chrysler’s manufacturing plant in northwest suburban Belvidere.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports Dodge dealers flocked to Chicago Wednesday to show off the latest product, the Dodge Dart.

It was an impressive sight as nearly 300 red Dodge Darts whizzed away from Soldier Field to dealerships across the Midwest.

Gov. Pat Quinn was on hand, and said he was not surprised.

“We have great, great workers who know how to work as a team and advance manufacturing – underline the word manufacturing – and that’s something we can do and do well,” he said.

When the Great Recession hit, and Chrysler teetered on the brink of collapse, it employed only 200 workers at Belvidere and the plant’s future appeared to be in doubt.

Now, with a newly-completed $685 million, 638,000-sq. ft. body shop addition, the plant employs 4,000 people, with assembly lines running around the clock.

Dodge CEO Reid Bigland said the Belvidere assembly plant is maxed out, and has never been worked harder in its 47 years of existence.

“Even at that third shift, we’re really struggling to keep up with the demand for not only the ’13 Dodge Dart, but we also build the Jeep Compass and the Jeep Patriot at that plant as well; two products that also continue to do extremely well in the marketplace for us,” he said. “We’re pedaling as fast as we can.”

Bigland said he could not rule out further expansion of the plant.

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