Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Chrysler LLC’s $1.8 billion investment in its Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit will accommodate production of the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda says.

LaSorda announces the investment, which will impact more than Michigan 400 jobs, during his speech here today. He says the outlay will enable the auto maker to produce a new generation of “world-class” vehicles that meet the diverse needs of global customers.

Among those vehicles is a new “car-based” Jeep Grand Cherokee, LaSorda tells Detroit’s WJR radio in an interview here moments before he makes his remarks. The new vehicle will be powered by a member of Chrysler’s new 6-cyl. engine family, dubbed Phoenix.

The investment will cover a 285,000-sq.-ft. (26,477-sq.-m.) expansion of the plant, including a new body shop that will allow increased flexibility and higher output.

Numerous green technologies also will be employed at Jefferson North, including new energy-management systems that burn solid waste and paint sludge as a source of energy.

Built in 1991, Jefferson North employs 2,400 people to build the Jeep Grand Cherokee midsize SUV and Jeep Commander fullsize SUV.

LaSorda’s reference to a car-based design appears to be a significant nod to the growing backlash against body-on-frame SUVs.

Less than 20 months ago, Chrysler unveiled a Wrangler-based body-on-frame concept Jeep dubbed the Trailhawk that suggested a direction for the next-generation Grand Cherokee.

dwinter@wardsauto.com