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Wrangler plant expansion

by David Zatz on

According to Larry Vellequette of Automotive News, the City of Toledo will pony up “an eight to nine figure offer” to nearly double the size of the Jeep Wrangler assembly line to three million square feet, avoiding the need to switch to a pre-assembled independent suspension .

The city considers Wrangler production to be a point of pride, according to Toledo native and former Toledo Blade business writer Mr. Vellequette, hence its offer to FCA despite a promise by CEO Sergio Marchionne that the city would keep its 1,700 Jeep jobs  regardless.

Mr. Vellequette pointed out that while those core 1,700 jobs would remain, numerous suppliers would likely leave, along with Toledo Molding & Die.

Any addition to the plant would almost certainly mean more jobs and could also mean more supplier expansion, so that the money would not just be a matter of pride but of long-term investment — assuming the Wrangler continues to grow. Mr. Marchionne has already said that he intends for Toledo to be the international home of the Wrangler, and a lighter, more efficient model, with fewer rough edges for the on-roader, would probably boost sales.  Given Fiat’s diesel portfolio and intention to use an eight-speed automatic, the fuel economy end is likely to be coming (Europeans already have diesel Wranglers, but not with the efficient eight-speed).

Jeep Toledo plant

According to the article, production is to increase from around 236,000 now to 350,000 per year. Former engineer Bob Sheaves told Allpar in October that a pickup variant would probably account for around 40,000 extra vehicles per year. (He also wrote that he believed production would remain in Toledo, and described how aluminum bodies could be phased in.)

Mr. Vellequette believes that production will continue during construction, with new portions coming online outside the current building and old portions converted quickly. (Original articleAutomotive News home page)

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