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Chrysler Group plans to invest $500 million in its Toledo North Assembly Plant and hire a second shift of workers over the next year to build a new Fiat-based SUV for Jeep, as well as other vehicles, Automotive News reports.
“This plant has been chosen to build the future Jeep SUV to replace the current Jeep Liberty that will be exported to markets all over the world,” CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the plant Wednesday. “Jeep is at the heart of our plans to internationalize Chrysler, a process which is being accelerated by Chrysler’s access to Fiat’s distribution capabilities in Europe and Latin America.”
Toledo North is Chrysler’s only assembly plant with only one shift of workers. This week’s announcement is expected to add 1,105 hourly and salaried jobs to the plant, which builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro SUVs. Production of the Nitro will end in December. The automaker reportedly plans to add about 300,000 square feet to its body shop and quality lab at the plant, with improvements to its body-in-white, trim chassis final, paint shop and material handling facilities.
Toledo North builds unibody vehicles, while the attached Toledo Supplier Park builds the body-on-frame Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. Together, the two plants, which operate under the same unified management structure, are known as Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly Complex.
Chrysler will increase the capacity for Toledo North to as much as 327,000 vehicles a year. According to Automotive News, the plant produced 91,973 Liberty and Nitro units in 2010, off 61 percent from the 10-year-old plant’s high of 237,719 Libertys in 2003. The new Jeep SUV will replace the Liberty for the 2013 model year and will be Chrysler’s first vehicle to ride on a Fiat platform, called CUSW, that will underpin as many as eight future compact- and mid-sized vehicles in North America.