The Chrysler Group has announced plans for a major investment in its Jeep production plant in Toledo, Ohio. Automotive News reports that the automaker will direct $500 million toward the improvement of the Toledo North Assembly Complex, where Jeep and other vehicles are built. The money will both improve the Toledo plant’s production capability and enable the hiring of a second shift of workers of the next year.
Making room for more workers in Toledo
Currently, Chrysler’s Toledo North facility, which is part of the larger Toledo Assembly Complex, can only handle a single shift of workers. However, plans to increase production of the uni-body construction Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro SUV made it necessary for Chrysler to hire on 1,105 additional hourly and salaried jobs, notes Fox Toledo Online.
To accommodate the added workforce, the Toledo North Assembly Plant will expanded by nearly 300,000 square feet. Improvements to the on-campus body shop quality lab, paint shop and material handling facilities will occur before the end of 2012. The new manufacturing shift will reportedly be in place by late 2013.
Just in time for 2013
Chrysler anticipates that the Toledo North expansion will be ready just in time for production of the 2013 Jeep Liberty SUV. The currently Liberty, which was released in 2008 by DaimlerChrysler, was intended to remind consumers of the Jeep Cherokee. Cherokee production had ended in 2001 after a 17-year cycle.
The new Liberty will be Chrysler’s first vehicle to ride on a Fiat platform, notes Automotive News. The platform, which is called CUSW, will serve as a framework for as many as eight future compact and mid-sized designs in North America.
The Dodge Nitro SUV was released in 2006 as a modified version of Liberty.
Chrysler’s $1.7 billion retooling effort
Nationwide, Chrysler has committed $1.7 billion to retooling various facilities following the recently negotiated United Auto Workers contract. The $500 million Toledo expansion will be the first of many projects.