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Chrysler mum on Toledo Wrangler production after meeting Ohio leaders

Fri, 10 Oct 2014 17:45:00 EST

"Fiat Chrysler remains committed to producing vehicles in Toledo and anticipates employment to remain at current levels."

The future of the iconic Jeep Wrangler in Toledo, OH, remains uncertain after a meeting Thursday between Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Ohio government leaders.

Marchionne met with Ohio officials at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI, after his comments at the Paris Motor Show last week started a firestorm in the northwestern Ohio city. He said the next-generation Wrangler would likely shift to an aluminum body, which could require moving production from its longtime home in Toledo.

If the iconic Jeep were to move to another factory, Chrysler has already confirmed it will continue to build vehicles at the Toledo complex and maintain employment levels there. The site also currently makes the Jeep Cherokee.

In a statement to Autoblog, Chrysler said: "It was a productive meeting that helped further the understanding of all parties. It is important to emphasize that Fiat Chrysler remains committed to producing vehicles in Toledo and anticipates employment to remain at current levels. The parties have agreed to meet again in short order."

Toledo Mayor Michael Collins, who led the delegation that included Ohio economic development officials and leaders from the governor's office, said in a statement that the business case for building the Wrangler in Toledo was "discussed at great length," and that future meetings with Chrysler will "embrace a full range of opportunities."

He added: "the city is focused on retaining the Wrangler in Toledo."

Relocating Wrangler production has become a hot-button issue in the wake of Marchionne's comments. Toledo has made Jeeps and their ancestors since 1941, when it began production of the Willys MB for the Allied war effort. The vehicle is widely credited for its instrumental role in America's victory in World War II, and a prominent veterans memorial with a restored 1942 Willys military vehicle was unveiled at the site in May.

The Toledo complex dates to 1910, when it was a Willys-Overland factory. It now employs 5,078 workers and spans 3.64-million square feet.

By Greg Migliore

See also: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles gets officially official this Sunday, Marchionne to take his sweater and go home after 2018, Toledo gets proactive in fight to keep Jeep Wrangler.