The bankruptcy court showdown between Chrysler LLC and troubled plastics parts supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. will not be settled until Feb. 19.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Phillip Shefferly said he would make his decision after two days of hearings in the court battle between Chrysler and Plastech that centers around tooling used to make Chrysler parts in Plastech plants.
Chrysler wants to remove its tooling and award the work to other suppliers. Plastech wants the court to block such a move, contending it would endanger the company's reorganization efforts.
Plastech filed for Chapter 11 protection Feb. 1 after Chrysler began terminating its contracts with the supplier.
In testimony given Feb. 14, Richard Schmidt, Chrysler's senior manager of materials supply operations, said Chrysler would be able to resume operations in four or five days if it could remove its tooling by Feb. 16.
``I don't believe that,'' said Donald Coates, Plastech vice president of operations. ``There's no way it could be done in four or five days.''
Coates said Chrysler would have to move secondary assembly equipment, such as tooling assemblies, computers, frames, interfacing systems and other production equipment used by Plastech to make Chrysler's interior parts.
``There are 4,000 items on this list. It's physically impossible,'' he said.
Matt DeMars, Plastech's president of interior and exterior business, said the entire process of moving the disputed tooling from 21 Plastech plants that manufacture Chrysler parts would take between 24 and 30 months.
If Chrysler is allowed to move its tools out of Plastech's operations, a disruption similar to the one when Plastech filed for Chapter 11 protection would occur, Schmidt said.
Under questioning from Plastech lawyer Gregg Galardi, Schmidt said some vehicle production could continue if production were disrupted. He said vehicles could be assembled without some parts and wait on a factory lot until the parts are added.
But that could create quality problems: Vehicles could be damaged by parts being added out of sequence. Customers also would face delays as their vehicles wait on lots to be completed.
In another development that emerged during today's testimony, Johnson Controls Inc., based in Glendale, Wis., considered acquiring Plastech in the weeks before the automotive parts supplier sought bankruptcy protection, a Plastech adviser said.
Donald MacKenzie, brought in as a financial adviser to help Plastech address financial difficulties, said JCI may still be interested in acquiring Plastech, a big supplier to JCI and the three U.S.-based automakers.
A Johnson Controls representative could not be reached immediately for comment.
Plastech, of Dearborn, Mich., owns more than 35 plants in North America and generated $1.4 billion in sales last year. According to court documents, the company employs 7,700, 70 percent of them union members.