Jeep Wrangler's shift to aluminum could see production leave ToledoMon, 06 Oct 2014
The Jeep Wrangler may be a timeless design, but sooner or later, time will run out and Chrysler will have to replace it with a newer model more friendly towards the earth it's designed to traverse. That will, it seems, mean a shift to aluminum construction (whether just for the body or for the entire structure) – but what will that mean for the Wrangler's long-time home of Toledo, OH?
According to the latest pronouncements from Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne, the shift to an aluminum Wrangler would likely mean moving production out of Toledo. "If the solution is aluminum," Marchionne told Automotive News, "then I think unfortunately Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler, because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive."
Marchionne also indicated that, were Wrangler production to move elsewhere, it would find another line to take its place in Ohio. "One of the thing that we are dealing with now is what else we do with Toledo that fulfills our commitment to the city and to Ohio. I don't have a doubt that there will be zero impact on head count and employment levels and anything else." Jeep has built the Wrangler in Toledo since World War II, with the exception of six years starting in 1986 when it was built in Brampton, Ontario. The complex dates back to 1910 and currently produces the Wrangler and Cherokee. Past products have included the Wagoneer and Commanche as well as the Dodge Dakota and Nitro.
Along with aluminum construction, the next Wrangler is tipped to be smaller and rely on smaller turbocharged engines. Of course Jeep isn't the only automaker being forced to lighten up and modernize its iconic off-roader. Mercedes is looking at updating the age-old G-Wagen with more aluminum, Land Rover is working on an all-new replacement for its archaic Defender series and Toyota discontinued its rough-and-tumble FJ Cruiser last year.
By Noah Joseph
See also: Chrysler registers Trackhawk trademark, NHTSA investigating power modules on Chrysler Group SUVs and minivans, Chrysler recalls 350k vehicles over ignition switches.