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Production bombshell dropped (updated)

by David Zatz on

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette may have gotten one of the most surprising leaks of the year.

After the new agreement between Fiat Chrysler and the United Auto Workers is ratified, he wrote, FCA would move US car production to Mexico, while bringing remaining Ram 1500 pickups to the United States.  That would help to explain the massive new Sterling Heights body shop, and would allow for truck plant renovation without loss of production.

Mr. Vellequette’s unnamed sources claimed that regular-cab Ram 1500 production would move from Warren to nearby Sterling Heights, while the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would move to Toluca, Mexico. The Fiat 500, made in Mexico, is already scheduled to move to Europe.  Cherokee would move to Belvidere, where Darts are made, a net loss for Belvidere unless new products were added or sales rose.

Wrangler will move from  Toledo South to Toledo North, displacing Cherokee.  Warren Truck, once renovated, is to make the eight-seater Jeep Grand Wagoneer and be an overflow plant for Grand Cherokee. The plant has been dedicated to trucks since 1938.

Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups will continue to be assembled Saltillo, Mexico, along with ProMaster vans and Ram chassis cabs.

Still to be determined are the Jeep Compass replacement, Chrysler 100, and many more other new products; presumably, Belvidere would be refitted for some of this.

Chrysler Toledo North Assembly Plant

The moves may be an attempt to lower labor costs for cars with low profit margins. This strategy is being used by FCA in Europe, with low-end Fiats made in Eastern Europe and high-end Jeeps, Alfa Romeos, and Maseratis made in Italy.

Thom Paré wrote, “Warren Truck has needed a complete overhaul for years. The place is a nightmare of a structure and outdated tooling… it works perfectly for an overflow/low production plant. Sterling Heights can, in a three shift scenario, run higher production  of the Ram 1500.”


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