Fiat Chrysler has announced it will sideline $1 billion in order to retool its Warren Truck Assembly Plant to build the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Additionally, some of the funding will also go toward overhauling the south side of its Toledo Assembly Plant in order to build the Jeep Wrangler-based pickup truck.
The investment represents the second stage of FCA’s revised industrialization plan it first announced in January of 2016. The initial phase of the plan saw both the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 go the way of the Dodo Bird in order to free up FCA’s American production capacity so it could build more trucks and SUVs locally. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne believes the current amount of consumer demand for trucks and SUVs is a “permanent,” trend.
“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,” Marchionne said in a prepared statement. “These moves, which have been under discussion with (UAW president) Dennis Williams and the rest of the UAW leadership 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.”
FCA’s new found interest in producing trucks and SUVs has enabled it to put vehicles into production it otherwise would not have had the production capacity for, like the Wrangler-based pickup, for example. Furthermore, the revised production plan has also allowed it to boost Jeep production and break into new markets and also offer a wider range of products outside of North America.
“The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy,” Marchionne said. “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. In addition, these all-new products will reach new consumers, as well as those that have been part of the Jeep tradition.”
The Wrangler-based pickup is expected to have much in common with the 2018 JL Jeep Wrangler and will be built alongside the yet-to-be-unveiled SUV in Toledo. Less is known about the Grand Wagoneer and Wagoneer, however the pairing is expected to be more luxurious than other Jeep offerings and will take aim at vehicles like the Land Rover Range Rover. More information on both vehicles should become available as their respective production commencement dates near.