Officials Still Rally to Keep Wrangler Production in Toledo
At this point, no one can say for certain whether Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will keep Wrangler production in Toledo or move it somewhere outside of the Glass City in favor of somewhere more effective. Panic started back in October, when FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne casually mentioned that, if aluminum is used on the next-gen Wrangler, production would have to move from Toledo. Elected officials, union representatives, and Toledoans in general freaked out immediately, even though Marchionne assured that no jobs would be lost. It’s more of a pride thing for Toledo, which has produced the Wrangler since World War II.
The latest proposal from Toledo and Ohio officials included not just land (as was offered to FCA before) but also a building for production. In total, it would cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, which is hard to understand when Marchionne has said no jobs would be lost if production moved.
Even with Ohio’s latest offer, the future of Wrangler production remains uncertain, reports The Detroit News. That’s because the Wrangler is not built entirely by Fiat Chrysler. Because Daimler once owned Chrysler, production had been configured to allow Kuka (a German company) and Hyundai-Mobis, to produce the body and chassis, while FCA only painted and completed the Wranglers. This made sense before Fiat bought out Chrysler Group to form FCA, but now, not so much.
“What Marchionne would like is to have the advantages of high-capacity utilization, owning that capacity and taking advantage of that for himself versus having a supplier doing some of the things his competitors do internally,” explained David Cole, Center for Automotive Research chairman emeritus. “It really adds another level of complexity to the situation.”
While nothing is final, it sounds like the issue is more complicated than it once seemed, and perhaps nothing Toledo does will convince Marchionne to stay in Toledo. We expect a final word on the matter in June.
News Source: The Detroit News