And the reason all has to do with aluminum.
First and foremost, the famous Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio will not shutdown. In fact, it can barely keep with up global demand. While there have been rumors regarding a second Jeep plant, possibly to be built in China, Toledo will remain open for business. That’s for sure. What is not is the future assembly location for the Wrangler. Speaking at the Paris Motor Show last week, Fiat-Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne stated that the next-gen Wrangler might feature aluminum unibody construction, as opposed to its current steel body-on-frame design.
That’s all fine and good for cutting weight and therefore improving fuel economy, but there’s another issue here: the Toledo facility isn’t equipped to handle aluminum unibody. Making the switch to do so would be extremely costly. "You’re talking retooling the entire plant in order to convert it to unibody," said Bill Rinna, senior manager of North America forecasting at LMC Automotive. Marchionne apparently doesn’t believe that would be a worthwhile investment, as opposed to building a new plant elsewhere. Fortunately, Cherokee production wouldn’t be affected and no jobs will be lost. Still, the Wrangler, and its predecessors which date back to World War II, have all been built in Toledo.
It’s tradition and the local UAW is going to fight Fiat-Chrysler on this one. "I think (the Wrangler) has got to stay in Toledo, period," stated local UAW President Bruce Baumhower. "It’s up to them to make it happen. We can help. Our local government agencies can help with financing. I’m not talking about giveaway, I’m talking about financing." Hat tip to Chuck.