For some time now, Jeep has deliberated about what it will do regarding its assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio. Jeep has been trying to decide if it will continue to produce the Cherokee in Toledo or move it to another operation in another part of the US.
In recent weeks, Jeep has decided that it will move the production of the Cherokee and begin the production of a new pickup truck based on the Jeep Wrangler. What this means for the Toledo plant remains to be seen, but it could be promising as Jeep develops a new vehicle in its lineup. The new production of vehicles means that it will allow older cars to be recycled.
Currently, Jeep’s Toledo plant produces about 17,000 Cherokee vehicles each month. This loss of the Jeep Cherokee will no doubt be a blow to Toledo considering that the union and local grassroots effort had been to keep both the Wrangler and Cherokee production at the Toledo plant. However, since Chrysler has said that they’re looking to produce a new Wrangler-based pickup at Toledo, the Toledo plant may see no loss of its workforce and may find the new truck to be a great vehicle to produce. Recent reports have stated that Jeep fans have been wanting a Wrangler-based pickup for quite some time now. With Toledo gaining this production, the plant could end up producing a new model in Jeep’s lineup that becomes a very popular commodity.
However, union officials at the Toledo plant are concerned that the moving of the Cherokee production may mean a loss of jobs. Bruce Baumhower, president of the United Auto Workers Local 12, has said that he was both surprised and concerned at the news of Fiat Chrysler Automotive deciding to move the production of the Cherokee. Baumhower has further said that the UAW is interested in not only keeping the Cherokee production, but also in expanding the production that is done at the Toledo plant. The union currently represents about 6,000 employees who are employed at the Toledo Assembly Complex.
The current plan being proposed by Fiat Chrysler however should keep most of the employees working at the Toledo plant. The plan calls for the present Wrangler production to stay at current levels while the plant is retooled for producing the new Wrangler-based pickup. Suppliers who have been briefed on the production plans have said that Chrysler is looking to produce about 350,000 vehicles per year at the Toledo plant. It is believed that this planned production will be more than enough to keep the current staff employed at the Toledo Assembly Complex.
With the news of Chrysler deciding to move the production of the Cherokee, the question has become where exactly that production will move to. Chrysler has contemplated moving the Cherokee production to either the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan or to the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois. Both of these plants are readily able to take on the Cherokee production because both of these plants currently produce vehicles that are very similar to the Cherokee.
The fact that Toledo city officials have purchased land next to the Toledo Assembly Complex is another factor that could impact how the new production of the Wrangler-based pickup is handled by Chrysler. At present, there are over 100 acres available to handle expansion of the Toledo plant. This land could be used directly by Chrysler for expanding the production at the Toledo plant or it could be sold to suppliers who will help support the production of the new product line.
All in all, it appears that while the move of Cherokee will certainly be a blow to Toledo, the plant will improve as the production of the new vehicle begins. The good news in all of this is that Chrysler has decided to fully use the facilities it has available to it at the Toledo plant. As the future progresses, this move will mean that Toledo will continue to play a vital role in the overall production of Jeep’s lineup.