Jeep Wrangler production will stay in Toledo, Ohio, while Jeep Cherokee production will head to a nearby state. That’s the latest word from Fiat Chrysler following 11 months of uncertainty about the fate of Wrangler production. Automotive News also reports Fiat Chrysler will build a Jeep Wrangler-based pickup in Toledo as well. The pickup is still under development so that likely won’t be until in 2017 or 2018.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told Automotive News that the automaker has “found a solution” to how best expand production of the Wrangler in Toledo. Specific details of the plan will come after FCA ends contract talks with the UAW. The current contract expires Sept. 14. S
“We found a solution that accommodates a variety of other interests to us because of the way in which we can move some product around,” Marchionne said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist [to know] that the only way I can move around the Wrangler is to move it into the other Toledo plant.”
FCA’s Toledo Assembly Complex is composed of two plants: one smaller body-on-frame plant that builds the Wrangler and another nearly new unibody plant that builds the Cherokee. The two lines share some common parts staging, but otherwise operate independently. The plan would ensure that Wrangler production would continue while the plant is retooled for the redesigned 2018 Wrangler. The off-roader is one of the automaker’s most popular and profitable vehicles. Production of the redesigned Wrangler and pickup is planned to reach 350,000 per year, according to suppliers briefed on the plan.
Loss of the Cherokee is a blow to Toledo, which had sought to keep the vehicle and expand Wrangler production. Through August, the Cherokee is Jeep’s top-selling vehicle in the U.S., averaging 17,611 sales per month. The Cherokee would move, likely to Sterling Heights Assembly in Michigan, or possibly Belvidere Assembly in Illinois.
Meanwhile, a Wrangler-based pickup has been on Jeep enthusiasts’ wish list since the brand showed the Jeep Gladiator concept in 2005. The Gladiator was built on a Ram 1500 frame and shared Wrangler styling.
We don’t know yet if the Jeep pickup will mirror the size of the Gladiator or be even smaller to compete with the redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, as well as the potential comeback of the Ford Ranger pickup.
Photo Credit: FCA