Fiat Chrysler Building Three New Jeeps in U.S.
The investment furthers the automakers effort of increasing its production of popular SUVs and pickups and shift from making small and midsize vehicles.
The automaker announced late Sunday it would modernize its factory in Warren, a suburb of Detroit to make its new Grand Wagoneer and Jeep Wagoneer, which are large SUVs.
Its factory complex on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio will also receive new equipment so it can start making Jeep’s new pickup.
No details were provided by Fiat Chrysler about the new products but it said the factory work is scheduled to be completed during 2020.
Worldwide consumers have moved toward trucks and SUVs while shifting away from sedans and other passenger cars. In the U.S. during 2016, cars sales dropped by 7% while SUV and truck sales increased 8%.
FCA announced in 2016 its plans to stop the production of its Dodger Dart as well as Chrysler 200 due to slow sales. Factories that made those two products in Michigan and Illinois will receive new SUVs and trucks to make as FCA looks for an automaker to build smaller cars under contract.
The upgrade to the factory in Warren, Michigan will also give the plant the ability to manufacture the heavy duty Ram pickup, which is now produced in Mexico. However, FCA did not say if it is planning to shift any of its production north of the border for that vehicle.
Making vehicles south of the border and shipping them into the U.S. is currently a delicate issue politically after Donald Trump was elected president.
Trump has been very critical of General Motors, Ford and Toyota for making small vehicles in Mexico and then shipping them to the U.S. He threatened to impose a big import tax on those companies.
The factory investments expand the capacity of FCA to build new vehicles in important segments that enable it to meet increasing demand in the U.S., but even more important to grow exports of mid-size and large vehicles to markets around the globe, said Sergio Marchionne the CEO at FCA.
Marchionne said that those markets have been denied products because they have been historically lacking the capacity to produce them.
The pickup by Jeep would be the first pickup for the company since the 1990s.