One of the longest-running riddles in the auto industry was solved today with FCA's confirmation that the next-generation Jeep Wrangler will continue to be built at the company's plants in Toledo, Ohio.
Although he publicly expressed his preference for that solution last January, FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne also recounted numerous obstacles to doing so, not the least being that the existing plant is unable to keep up with current and projected future demand.
He has kept all parties involved guessing as to where the new Wrangler will be built until now, finally revealing FCA's plans in an interview with Automotive News.
Both the city and the state have made continuation of Wrangler production a political as well as an economic issue. Wranglers have been built in Toledo since 1986 and Jeep production there dates all the way back to World War II.
(Wranglers were also built in Canada, at the Former American Motors Brampton (Ontario) Assembly plant, from 1987 until it closed in 1992.)
The political interests may not be fully satisfied with FCA's solution, as it does not involve construction of an additional assembly plant as they had hoped. Rather additional Wrangler capacity will be achieved by replacing Jeep Cherokee production at another, newer and larger FCA plant in Toledo, known as Toledo North.
Cherokee production is expected to move to an existing plant in either Michigan or Illinois.
That solution has a bonus advantage for FCA in that Wrangler production can continue without interruption at the existing site during the Toledo North plant changeover period, maintaining a consistent supply of inventory. It will be a major changeover as that plant currently builds unibody vehicles and the new Wrangler will continue to employ body-on-frame construction.