announces a $1.7 billion investment today to fuel development and production of a next-generation Jeep SUV, a layout that includes $500 million earmarked for the auto maker’s Toledo, OH, assembly complex.
- CEO Sergio Marchionne reveals the plan during an event at the Toledo facility earlier today.
Upgrades to the 69-year-old Toledo assembly include a 260,000-sq.-ft. (24,154 sq. m) expansion of its current body shop on top of improvements to all other corners of the facility.
Chrysler also plans for the site a 26,000-sq.-ft. (2,415 sq. m) Metrology Center focusing on improving vehicle quality.
The auto maker expects the investment will result in a second production shift, adding about 1,100 workers, and bringing employment at the northwest Ohio facility to some 2,800 people.
Improvements at Toledo assembly will begin in the fourth quarter and continue through next year, with the new Jeep coming in 2013.
It is widely expected the investment will support a next-generation Jeep Liberty, which Chrysler intends to build off a-derived platform.
It also is expected to spawn a Chrysler-branded model.
The new Liberty, last redesigned in 2008, would be sold around the world.
Marchionne does not identify the SUV as a Liberty, calling it instead a “Jeep D-segment SUV.”
Liberty sales through October were up 34.4% to 55,322 units, from 41,157 in like-2010, and the model is outperforming the industry threefold, according to WardsAuto data.
However, the SUV has not lived up to the expectations of its 2001 introduction, when executives called for 200,000-unit sales annually.
Since Chrysler’s 2009 taxpayer-backed bankruptcy and subsequent takeover by Italy-based Fiat, the auto maker has invested some $4.7 billion to rebuild its U.S. operations.