FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is sinking $1 billion (about £800 million) of investment into two of its US car plants - the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan and Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio - with the aim of increasing production capacity to meet demand for SUVs and trucks.
The investment includes retooling and modernisation at Warren and Toledo. An additional 2000 jobs will be created and the move will consolidate the USA’s position as the global manufacturing hub for the flagship Jeep products.
The new body-on-frame Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be produced at Warren, with the as-yet-unnamed pick-up due to be made at Toledo. With the next-generation Jeep Wrangler due to be produced at Toledo, the new pick-up will be based upon that vehicle’s underpinnings.
A business case for the return of the storied Wagoneer model name has been in existence for many years, but the significant global growth of the Jeep brand in the past couple of years has finally given FCA chiefs the confidence to commit to the new vehicles.
The two vehicles will sit at the top of Jeep’s model range, with the Grand Wagoneer set to go head-to-head with the likes of Range Rover in terms of premium finish, performance, off-road capability and price. Jeep credits the Grand Wagoneer with inventing the premium SUV segment in its original life from 1963 to 1991, when it was axed.
FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne said: “The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy.
“Our commitment to internationalise the Jeep brand is unwavering, and with these last moves, we will finally have the capacity to successfully penetrate markets other than the US which have historically been denied product due to capacity constraints.
“In addition, these all-new products will reach new consumers, as well as those that have been part of the Jeep tradition.”
Investment in the Warren facility will also enable it to produce the Ram heavy-duty truck, which is currently produced in Mexico.