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Stamping increase for Wrangler

by David Zatz on

While autowriters and Mopar fans have delved into debates about Fiat Chrysler’s products, few have looked at a major difference between Fiat and Daimler: their approach to parts sourcing.

Former AMC/Chrysler engineer Robert Sheaves said, even before the Fiat deal was done, that while Daimler preferred to outsource whenever possible, Fiat prefers keeping work in-house, which may explain why they still own Magneti Marelli, not to mention Comau and Teksid. Since taking over, Fiat has indeed reclaimed for Chrysler the building of key engine parts (cranks, cams, and engine blocks, among others),  and has chosen to build ZF transmissions under license rather than outsourcing it.

The recent $166 million investment into the Sterling Heights stamping plant, which increases output from 62 to 82 million parts per year, is an example of that approach; Sergio Marchionne announced that Sterling Heights would produce parts of the Wrangler that had been made by an outside supplier.

One of the problems faced by FCA — and, indeed, both Cerberus and Daimler — was that the new Jeep plant was growth-constrained by Daimler’s “supplier park” model. Under the Daimler model, Kuka, Hyundai, and Magna all came to have major roles in building the Wrangler; and the supplier park, though extremely efficient, was not created with increased capacity in mind, which is why the Wrangler will end up in the nearby Toledo North plant.

The end result is more jobs at FCA, in the United States.

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