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Where will future Rams be made? (Updated)

by David Zatz on

FCA is playing musical chairs with their factories, moving trucks out of their historical home (since 1938) in Warren, Michigan; pushing cars south of the border and moving Journey (or its replacement) northwards; swapping Wrangler to the Cherokee plant, and building (something else) in its place.

The moves will keep production of key vehicles going during renovations, and allow more production of the Wrangler and Ram, not to mention new variants such as a Ramcharger SUV or a Wrangler-based pickup.

The question is, where will Rams end up? The two leading contenders appear to be Sterling Heights, as early word suggested, or Belvidere, as some are now speculating.

Sterling Heights has a huge new paint shop and a more recent renovation, and it’s close to Warren, Michigan, for less disruption to parts routing. Warren workers who live north of the plant would be relatively close to Sterling Heights (the plants are around ten miles apart) and could switch locations far more easily than if production moved to faraway Belvidere.

The problem is that even the new paint shop may be too small for Rams, based on a throwaway comment from an FCA US spokesman on a promotional video.

Belvidere may already have the ability to handle Ram-sized vehicles, depending on who one speaks with, and once Compass and Patriot cease, it would be relatively easy to shift Dart to Sterling Heights. It would also be relatively easy to move 200 to Belvidere; and some rumors have all of them moving to Toluca, Mexico.

Either plant would likely have to be substantially revised to work with body-on-frame, rear-wheel drive trucks after being designed for unit-body front-wheel-drive cars.

Both plants can likely handle any CUSW vehicle as they are — Cherokee, Dart, and 200 alike.

There is also Brampton, currently build the rear wheel drive cars — Charger, Challenger, 300 — which are due for replacement (or cancellation) roughly a year after the new Rams appear.

What product will be made in the old Wrangler plant in Toledo, once the Wrangler leaves? The timing is right for something based on the rear wheel drive platform being used first by Alfa Romeo. If, as we suspect, Jeep is planning to build an SUV on that basic set of dimensions and assumptions, Toledo seems a logical place to make it — along with, perhaps, a midsize, rear-drive Dodge car.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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