TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - As we get ready to celebrate Jeep's rich history with Jeep Fest 2018, we are also learning more about its future here in Toledo. Retooling work continues at the Toledo Assembly Complex as workers gear up to build the next generation Wrangler. Union leaders say hundreds of new jobs will be coming on line in the coming months.
They're building pilots, or test models, of the new Wrangler in Toledo right now. As we get closer to the launch date, union leaders say more than 400 new jobs are coming to the plant.
More than 75 years after it made its debut, the Wrangler continues to create jobs. Bruce Baumhower heads up the union that represents the workers,"We will have 450 new jobs at Jeep and about 800 other new jobs at suppliers, so we are looking at 1250-1300 new jobs in the community."
As far as those 450 jobs at the Toledo Assembly Complex, "We're now in the process of taking 450 workers who were working on a temporary basis before and rolling them over to permanent, full time status. Then we'll hire another 450 people to fill the temporary jobs."
When Cherokee production was moved from Toledo to a plant in Illinois, crews began retooling that space for the new Wrangler.
Baumhower says that work is right on track. In fact, he says it may even be finished early, "Originally the workforce was supposed to be back in November but the teams have done a great job with the launch,and they are a little bit ahead of schedule. Some of them will likely come back before November."
Right now workers build Wranglers every day of the week, and Baumhower expects that to continue with the new model. The goal is to build 350,000 a year here in Toledo for domestic and global markets, "Right now we're planning on the same work schedules as before which is to run the plant 7 days a week 20 hours a day, or two ten hour shifts a day."
David Wherry has spent 23 years at Jeep. He's worked on the Wrangler lines for more than half that time, "Everybody at the plant is real excited. The team working on it excited. We're expecting good things to come out of it."
David won't talk specifics, but he says there's a lot to like about he new model, "What do you think of it? It's beautiful. It's a little different, it's a change for sure, but a change for the best."
No official word yet on when the world will get its first look at the new Wrangler. As we mentioned,they are producing test models here in Toledo right now. Production of Wranglers that will be sold is expected late this year, with the new models rolling into showrooms in the first quarter of next year.