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New jobs show timing of future Jeeps; Dundee’s status

by David Zatz on

Today, FCA made two announcements about FCA plants. First, the company said it would invest $4.5 billion in upgrading five plants, creating 6,500 jobs within Michigan.

The “new assembly plant” within Detroit’s city limits will replace the two Mack Avenue engine plants. The city is working with Detroit on a memorandum of understanding (contract), since the project will need additional property beyond the Mack plants and their current landscaping. The creation of the new assembly plant depends on successful negotiations with state and local governments.

This project, which is to cost $1.6 billion, will create a new place to make the Grand Cherokee, a new three-row Grand-Cherokee-based vehicle  (the current version is called Durango),  and a PHEV model. This will add 3,850 new jobs, and should start in mid-2019 with the first three-row Jeeps expected by the end of 2020; the first new Grand Cherokee should follow in the first half of 2021.

Let Allpar be the first to speculate that the new vehicle will be dubbed “Grand Cherokee Unlimited,” since “Grand Grand Cherokee” is unlikely and Wagoneer has already been taken—but more on that soon.

The area, which used to have the company’s flagship showroom and some offices, is also home to the “Jefferson Avenue” plant that makes the current Grand Cherokee, and the former Conner Avenue plant, built to make spark plugs and long-time home of the Viper.

This is very good news for the people of the Dundee engine complex, some of whom were expecting to hear bad news. Instead, Pentastar V6 engine production at Mack I will be moved to Dundee, as part of a $119 million investment, this year. Mack II’s last engine was a “Next Generation” V6 made in late 2012.

The existing plans to renovate Warren Truck and produce the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer there was verified by FCA’s press release today. The cost of updating the plant is to increase to $1.5 billion, but will also include the ability to make “electrified counterparts” of the big luxo-Jeeps. The Wagoneer series will be based on the 2019 Ram.

warren stamping plant-sign

In a surprise move, FCA also said the Ram 1500 Classic would stay in production, due to popular demand (the Classic is, in essence, the prior-generation Ram pickup, whose primary attraction is lower pricing).  The Ram Heavy Duty will, as most people expected, remain in Saltillo, Mexico. The nearby Warren Stamping and Sterling (Heights) Stamping plants will get $245 million and $160 million investments, with Sterling expected to get 80 new jobs.

The current Jeep Cherokee, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have gained enough traction from its recent facelift to avert losses. The Belvidere plant, which makes nothing but Cherokees, will cut one of its three shifts, “impacting” 1,371 jobs, according to Reuters. FCA will try to find work for the laid-off workers, in order of seniority.

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