FCA is upgrading the south plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio so it can build an all-new Jeep pickup truck. That effort should be completed by 2020, it said. (Photo courtesy of FCA)

Fiat Chrysler retooling plant for Jeep pickup

Jan. 9, 2017
Some $1 billion will retool and modernize two factories for the Jeep line; the second phase of $9.6 billion worth of overall U.S. manufacturing investments by the OEM.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) confirmed this week that it will invest $1 billion and create more than 2,000 new jobs in two U.S. factories that build its Jeep line of light vehicles – one of which will build an all-new Jeep pickup model.

This is the second phase of a $9.6 billion industrialization plan announced in January last year that seeks to “realign” FCA’s U.S. manufacturing operations so it can “respond better” to shifts in market demand for trucks and SUVs, while further expanding production capacity for its Jeep and Ram Truck models.

“The conversion of our industrial footprint completes this stage of our transformation as we respond to the shift in consumer tastes to trucks and SUVs, and as we continue to reinforce the U.S. as a global manufacturing hub for those vehicles at the heart of the SUV and truck market,” said Sergio Marchionne, FCA’s CEO, in a statement.

“These moves, which have been under discussion with the UAW [United Auto Workers] for some time, expand our capacity in these key segments, enabling us to meet growing demand here in the U.S., but more importantly to increase exports of our mid-size and larger vehicles to international markets,” he added.

With the $1 billion investment, FCA said it will “retool and modernize” its Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan to produce the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, along with upgrades to the south plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio so it can build an all-new Jeep pickup truck, with more than 2,000 jobs also will be added to support production of these models; efforts planned to be completed by 2020, the OEM noted.

“The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy,” Marchionne added.

“Our commitment to internationalize the Jeep brand is unwavering, and with these last moves, we will finally have the capacity to successfully penetrate markets other than the U.S. which have historically been denied product due to capacity constraints,” he said. “In addition, these all-new products will reach new consumers, as well as those that have been part of the Jeep tradition.”

FCA pointed out that the added benefit of the investment in its Warren factory is so it can produce the Ram heavy duty truck, which is currently built in Mexico.

Those are follow-on plans to the “first phase” of FCA’s U.S. industrialization plan, announced back in July 2016, which included:

  • A $350 million investment in FCA’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which will move from its current production location in Toledo, Ohio, in 2017, with some 300 new jobs created in that process.
  • A $700 million investment the Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio to retool the North plant to produce the next generation Jeep Wrangler; a move that will add an estimated700 new jobs.
  • A nearly $1.5 billion investment in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan for retooling to build the next generation Ram 1500, which should add 700 new jobs.
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