DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC, which is seeking $5 billion in additional federal aid to survive, has lowered the thermostat, dimmed the lights and stripped the clocks from the walls of its sprawling headquarters to save cash.
The automaker’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan includes a 15-story office tower and a technical center covering 121 acres, making it the second-largest office complex in the United States, behind only the Pentagon.
To cut costs, Chrysler has removed half of the fluorescent light bulbs in overhead lighting fixtures (projected annual savings: $400,000), dropped the temperature in the building by four degrees ($70,000) and stopped clearing snow from roof-top parking decks ($310,000).
Details of the cost savings efforts were posted on a Chrysler blog (blog.chryslerllc.com) this week.
The company did not specify a total cost savings target for the steps it has taken at its headquarters.
Chrysler’s larger rival, General Motors Corp, has taken similar steps to cut costs, dimming lights and turning off escalators in its Detroit headquarters.
Chrysler, about 80-percent owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, had earlier shut down its Auburn Hills office complex between Christmas and New Year‘s, a move it estimated had saved over $250,000.
The No. 3 U.S. automaker has been rocked by a steep downturn in sales and has been kept in operation since the start of the year with $4 billion in federal loans.
Chrysler is seeking another $5 billion to restructure as it also looks toward clinching an alliance with Italy’s Fiat SpA.
Chrysler shut all 30 of its U.S. plants at the start of this year to run down inventory and save cash and is pressing its major union to accept a lower cash payout for retiree health care.
In the meantime, Chrysler has also removed hundreds of clocks from the walls of its headquarters, telling workers to check the time on their watches, phones or computers.
By taking down the clocks last year, maintenance staff no longer have to reset them twice a year, when the time changes to daylight saving time and back.
William Wolf, Chrysler’s facility operations director, said in a posting on the Chrysler blog that would save $10,000.
“Everybody has to make adjustments during tough economic times,” Wolf said. “Now I just have to figure out what to do with a closet full of clocks.”
Reporting by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Phil Berlowitz