updated 8/13/2008 9:10:14 AM ET 2008-08-13T13:10:14

Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda said Wednesday his company will invest $1.8 billion in a Detroit assembly plant, retooling it to make a new car-based sport utility vehicle.

LaSorda said the money will go for tooling and a flexible body shop at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant. That plant now makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

A copy of LaSorda’s speech to an industry meeting on Wednesday says the investment will keep more than 400 jobs in Michigan.

The new vehicle will be more fuel efficient than the truck-based Cherokee and will be equipped with the company’s new Phoenix line of fuel-efficient engines.

LaSorda says the factory should be retooled by the end of next year and will start cranking out the new vehicles early in 2010.

He said the investment will include energy efficient lighting and the ability to use solid waste and paint sludge as an energy source.

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