Toledo, you’re panicking. I know this because I just watched another news story about Sergio Marchionne and the future of Jeep Wrangler production in Toledo, Ohio. As a lifelong resident of this area, I can see why the thought of no longer producing the Wrangler in Toledo is a scary thought, but even if the new Wrangler isn’t produced there, I really don’t see Toledoans losing jobs over it.
But first, the harsh reality of the new Jeep Wrangler: if the new Jeep Wrangler is an aluminum-based product, production would have to halt at the Toledo assembly plant for some amount of time to retool for the changeover. Based on the amount of time Ford halted F-150 production, this is no small changeover. Every minute the Jeep plant is not making Wranglers is a Wrangler that isn’t available for the company to sell. Follow me so far?
Now, with the Ford changeover to aluminum, there are actually two plants making F-150s. The original Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, and the truck plant in Kansas City. While the Rouge is shutdown, the Kansas City plant is still making 2014 steel F-150s. Since Wranglers are only built in one plant, there is no other plant to take over production of the Wrangler while the current plant retools.
It doesn’t make good business sense for Marchionne to shutter the Toledo plant for an extended period of time while the plant retools. It would make more business sense to build a new plant while the current Toledo plant is making steel Wranglers, and then when the aluminum plant comes online, stop production at the Toledo plant.
Jeep’s future production plans.
If that were the case, Wrangler production would occur somewhere else, and once the new plant comes online the people in Toledo would have nothing to assemble. BUT, Cherokee sales are great. They’re selling them by the truckload, and if those strong sales continue those workers who wouldn’t have anything to build would be building Cherokees in the Toledo plant to keep up with demand. Also, there are more Jeep vehicles in the pipeline. Another limited production vehicle like the Wrangler could fill in the production gap (if one were to exist) making it even less likely that Toledoans would lose their jobs. A Wrangler refresh is expected in late 2017, and an all new Grand Wagoneer is expected in early 2018. While yes, it would be sad to no longer see the Wrangler produced in Toledo, there are a lot of production opportunities for those assembly workers.
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