Toledo Plant Construction Update

Billy

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http://www.toledoblade.com/Automoti...struction-on-track-for-new-Jeep-Wrangler.html

Toledo plant construction on track for new Wrangler
Next-gen Jeep model set to roll out in 4Q

Construction within Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly Complex is on schedule, with the debut for the next-generation Jeep Wrangler still on track for the year’s fourth quarter.

Officials from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns the plant and the Jeep brand, allowed a small group of media into the facility Thursday to see the progress of the work and give an outline of what all has happened there in the last eight weeks.

Since the last Jeep Cherokee rolled off the line on April 7, construction crews have gutted most of the plant floor to make way for the new conveyor systems, tooling, and robotics necessary for a new Wrangler.

“At one point you could see from one end of this building to the other with the amount of demo that was going on,” Plant Manger Chuck Padden said.

While a few areas will be relatively unchanged, for the most part the plant is starting from scratch. That’s necessary, officials say, because of the different way in which the new Wrangler will be built.

The Cherokee, which will soon relaunch in Belvidere, Ill., is a unibody vehicle. In simple terms, that means the body and frame are essentially one single unit upon which everything from the suspension and engine to doors and seats are mounted.

The new Wrangler will continue as a body-on-frame vehicle, which mates a body to a separate chassis which is built with the engine, transmission, suspension, and other key components.

“It may seem simple, but basically you're almost going from building a car to a truck,” Mr. Padden said. “The frame is built separately from the body so the entire process changes. The components are very different.”

Fiat Chrysler has said it will invest about $700 million in the project. Between the automaker’s own skilled trades employees and outside contractors, up to 2,500 people were working on the changeover at one point. Today, that’s closer to 2,000, Mr. Padden said.

Officials with the automaker would not address questions about the new Wrangler itself, which is expected to go on sale next year as a 2018 model.

However, union officials said last month that 200 prototype Wranglers already had been built in a special part of the plant. Those vehicles will be used for a variety of testing purposes, but not sold to the public.

None was within sight on Thursday.

The current generation of the Wrangler will remain in production until shortly after the new model launches. That side of the Toledo complex, which includes two on-site suppliers, has not been affected by the construction.

Officials with Fiat Chrysler said the work in the former Cherokee plant has included hauling away 920 truckloads of scrap material, plus about 4,800 tons of steel to be recycled.

For the new conveyor lines, crews dug out significant sections of the floor, installed the equipment and have poured 4,000 yards of new concrete.

“From the technology standpoint here, there’s nothing brand new, never been used before, but some of this is brand new to Toledo and some of it’s bigger, faster, better, than where the applications have been in the past,” Mr. Padden said.

One addition will be adaptive lighting in the final inspection part of the paint shop.

“There’s new technology there that will actually adjust the intensity of the inspection lighting depending on the color of the car going down the line,” Mr. Padden said.

Different parts of the plant are in different stages of construction. While concrete is still being poured in some areas, in other areas technicians are beginning to program the robots.

Fiat Chrysler laid off about 3,200 employees when Cherokee production ended, though the company has said all of those will be brought back in. The company also has said 700 new full-time jobs would be created, though no new details about that were offered on Thursday.

Eventually, Jeep will shut down the current Wrangler line and retool it for a new Jeep pickup. The company has said the Toledo Assembly Complex will share in an upcoming $1 billion investment that will support part of that work, though officials haven’t said exactly how much of it will come to Toledo.
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MrDinkMan

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200 JL prototypes... surprised we haven't seen more on the streets especially of the 2 door.

He mentions it wont be shown to the public until at least this summer. Granted it's almost summer but I wonder if that is from info provided to them to indicate possible summer debut.
 

digitalbliss

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It seems to me, that when Auto mfgs are introducing new models, they are always at the tail end of their announcement date. Meaning that a Summer release in the last quarter of summer is 99% more likely than during the first 3. Also, the Q4 launch could quite possibly be the last week of December.
 

Work

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That's a lot of scrap lol. I don't know. I feel like, even if I put an order in day one it'll probably be a few months into 2018 before I take delivery.
 

The Great Grape Ape

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200 JL prototypes... surprised we haven't seen more on the streets especially of the 2 door.
Likely a lot of those prototypes are to test production methodsa nd provide after-market companies platforms upon which to develop their products. Some of those prototypes might be barely more than rolling suspensions, while others may be nearly identical to those to be found on the lots at Xmas.

He mentions it wont be shown to the public until at least this summer. Granted it's almost summer but I wonder if that is from info provided to them to indicate possible summer debut.
I'm not sure the benefit of a Summer debut at this point. No big Auto Show right now, and to big a gap between launch and possible purchase. So it still seems like a late fall release is most likely. Most people/press have been saying LA Auto Show at the end of November (Press peview Nov27/December 1st open to public).
However, I'm thinking that's a little late, and just like Apple and Microsoft don't really go big at CES anymore, but do their own events so they don't get drowned out by other manufacturers' launches, I have a feeling that FCA is't going to launch at a typical AutoShow, but instead is going to launch the JL at SEMA in Vegas at the End of October, just a few weeks before the order banks open. The Jeep Wrangler is already a darling of SEMA every year, what better place to launch the JL than there?

PS, can't wait to tour the new pant, likely next summer. Have toured the old plant 3 times sofar.
 
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Billy

Billy

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200 protos.

It takes numerous crash testers to certify new models, and they have to crash certify every configuration of 2/4 door, engine trans combos, and likely the different top configs too.

Man i'd like to manage the crash testing...
 

AWD

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However, I'm thinking that's a little late, and just like Apple and Microsoft don't really go big at CES anymore, but do their own events so they don't get drowned out by other manufacturers' launches, I have a feeling that FCA is't going to launch at a typical AutoShow, but instead is going to launch the JL at SEMA in Vegas at the End of October, just a few weeks before the order banks open. The Jeep Wrangler is already a darling of SEMA every year, what better place to launch the JL than there?

PS, can't wait to tour the new pant, likely next summer. Have toured the old plant 3 times sofar.
Exactly, the Wrangler dominates the SEMA show as it is, it would be a great place to launch the JL and JLU. The Mopar section is also really large so perfect place to launch Mopar parts for it at the same time.

Wouldn't be shocked if the launch event is a standalone event though. The Wrangler is important enough to get its own. Wherever they launch it though, Manley has hinted at a "very special event"

Video: http://www.jlwranglerforums.com/for...nd-reassures-enthusiasts-video-interview.671/
 

The Great Grape Ape

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Wouldn't be shocked if the launch event is a standalone event though. The Wrangler is important enough to get its own. Wherever they launch it though, Manley has hinted at a "very special event"
Oh Definitely! I agree.
However, I still think even a stand-alone event wouldn't happen in the summer, months before even the order banks open, I would expect it around that same fall timeframe when the hype dollars could be quickly converted in to order bucks.

As for the video, I appreciate his statement that the production timeline doesn't fall in the natural Autoshow timeframes, like I said LA is definitrly too late, SEMA is a bit early though as close as possible IMO, but technically also not an 'autoshow' so much as a parts/accesories show.

A standalone event is good for exclusivity, but the drawback is that while you are the sole focus, you also likely get the focus of fewer eyes/cameras/reporters at the event. Whether or not that matters as much any more in the digital age is debatable, but with the number of bloggers, etc that go to auto shows and do their thing in public, limiting it to an invite only even for one product does lessen the likelyhood of non-enthusiast coverage and participation (not that SEMA isn't also enthusiast as we've both already mentioned).

To me the advantage in favour of the exclusive FCA/Wrangler event is that initial femand will likely already be gobbled up by entusiasts, so getting a December LA Autoshow date, and a January Detroit International AutoShow date and SuperBowl spot, likely works best at generating the demand for the non-enthusiast who would file in right after the initial launch buyers.
You would want the late fall launch (SEMA ideal or FCA event) for the enthusiasts who have been buying their JKs as soon as the order banks open for years, and that gets the enthusiasts all,the data and real-world info they need weeks before being able to order, and then the general,public can follow that with whatever.

But if we're talking first full look/hands-on for folks like TruckTrend, 4Wheeler, TFL, etc then that fall timeframe makes the most sense, whether it's a medium band coverage of SEMA or the narrowband FCA coverage similar to Apple's WWDC or Google's I/O, which then provides the resources/feed for the enthusiasts to spread the message wider, and then eventually mainstream to fall in later. Of course it's harder to send a $30K tester out for a vehicle to all media outlets versus a thousand phones, etc.
 
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