Chrysler is chopping 13,000 jobs across North America, including 2,000 in Southern Ontario, as part of a strategy to cut the struggling automaker's costs.

The company made the announcement Wednesday from its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. as part of a major restructuring plan it hopes will return it to profitability by next year.

"DaimlerChrysler is going to cut a total of 13,000 jobs in North America and that represents about 16 per cent of its Chrysler work force," CTV's Business Editor Linda Sims reported on Newsnet.

Under the plan, 11,000 production workers, including 2,000 in Windsor and Brampton, Ont. will be eliminated over the three-year period.

Another 2,000 salaried jobs will also be cut -- 1,000 this year and 1,000 in 2008.

Chrysler Group has a plant in Brampton, Ont. where the Dodge Challenger, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Magnums are assembled.

It produces Dodge and Chrysler minivans and the Chrysler Pacifica in Windsor.

At Chrysler's Canadian operations, 1,100 cuts will fall in 2007 alone, the automaker said.

"It is no coincidence that Canada became a net importer in the auto industry last year, at the same time as we face unprecedented job cuts at North American-based auto manufacturers,'' Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove said in a release.

"The one-way street in global automotive trade has to end.''

The restructuring plan also calls for the idling of the company's Newark, Del., assembly plant; with a shift reduction this year.

Chrysler also plans to eliminate a shift at the Warren, Mich. truck plant, which makes the Dodge Ram and Dakota pickups.

The other plant to lose a shift is the St. Louis South assembly plant, which makes Chrysler and Dodge minivans.

The Cleveland-area parts distribution centre would be close sometime this year, Chrysler said.

DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said the company is looking into "further strategic options with partners'' for Chrysler.

"In this regard we do not exclude any option in order to find the best solution for both the Chrysler Group and DaimlerChrysler,'' Zetsche said in a statement.

Workers have heard rumours about possible buyouts or early retirement offers similar to those offered by Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. to reduce their hourly work forces by tens of thousands.

"I should mention as well in terms of the layoffs, there were a lot of people concerned about how that would impact what's going on at the various operations in Canada, we thought we might lose a component plant in Toronto and that is not going to close," Sims said.

"Also the company has mentioned a number of shifts that are going to be cut in U.S. plants, but none in the Canadian plant," she said.

Analysts had expected a shift to be cut in the Brampton plant west of Toronto.

"That's apparently not going to happen. That suggests the company is going to try to bring the 2,000 people out of the work force through buyouts, early retirements and what we've seen from the other auto makers is that this is possible," Sims said.

If the incentives are attractive enough, those workers may be happy to take the buyouts, she said.

"So the pain may be limited -- we may not see actual pink slips going out," Sims said.

The company said Tuesday it will build the new Dodge Challenger muscle car at its Brampton plant.

Chrysler lost US$1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2006, and its sales were down 7 per cent last year.

Future vehicles made by the company, analysts say, will likely share more parts with Mercedes vehicles as DaimlerChrysler moves to save money by building more models on common platforms.

With files from The Associated Press