According to an Automotive News article by Larry Vellequette, new body shops at Toledo Assembly (which makes Cherokee) and Belvidere Assembly (which makes Dart, Compass, and Patriot) were designed to be interchangeable, taking advantage of the common platform elements in Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, Jeep Cherokee, and presumably the forthcoming Jeep Compass/Patriot replacement. The new body shop, over a quarter million square feet in footprint, can build four different models.
The Toledo plant will be making 400 Cherokees per day within three weeks, according to the plant manager, as quoted by Automotive News. The goal is to build one Cherokee every minute, with two shifts (the second shift starts at the end of August). Production of models for public sale began on June 24, around 11 months after its predecessor, the Jeep Liberty, ended its production run. It will take one to two months for Cherokees to reach dealerships.
While the plant will employ 1,100 people with two shifts, that is a much lower number than it would have been previously; the plant was renovated with many new robots, cutting down the need for human labor. Liberty required 18 people to put the doors onto bodies, while Cherokee only needs four.
Toledo is currently Chrysler’s most efficient assembly complex in North America, including both Wrangler and Cherokee plants. It has a bronze “World Class Manufacturing” status and is aiming for silver in August.
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