TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - While the official Wrangler unveiling was in California Wednesday, 13abc got a look at a couple of the new models at the Toledo Assembly Complex. Building the new Wrangler has been a top secret operation, but today the world got its first look at what's been happening at the Toledo plant.
The next generation Wrangler has been under wraps for about two years, but the SUV made its official debut Wednesday in Los Angeles. There was also an unveiling of sorts in Toledo too.
Diego Nakashima is the Launch Manager for the Wrangler, "It is very exciting to share what we have been working on. It's been this secret we have all been keeping. The workforce is proud of the new model. It is taller, wider, bigger and smoother than its predecessor. "
The first prototypes were built in a secret space inside the Toledo plant. Eventually the workforce began making pilot, or test models, on the lines. Those models continue to be built today.
Dina Green was part of the project from the start, "I was on the launch team from the very beginning. We started in January. We had to keep it a big secret, and that was hard. I am very proud of this plant. We all put in very long hours, and we are truly invested in this vehicle."
Cole Young is a third-generation Jeep worker. He likes everything about the new model, but he has a few favorite features. "I just like the size of it compared to the old one. I love the grille, too. That is my favorite part. It's neat to see how they fused all the lights, it's cool. I love my job!"
While the lines are true to Wrangler's roots, Diego says there are a lot of changes. Everything from the interior, which now includes things like a back up camera and blind spot monitors, to a retractable roof and a big change to the windshield, " It's a lot easier now because you can remove four bolts from the top of the header and the windshield comes right down. If you have the right tools and the right person doing it, you can have it down in about three and a half minutes."
What was first made here in Toledo more than 75 years ago continues to be a driving force in our economy and a source of pride for the men and women who make them. Cole says he loves seeing what he builds on the road, "Every time I see a Wrangler, I says yep, I helped build that!"
Dina says her whole family loves seeing Wranglers on the road, "I am proud. My children and my entire family are proud too when we see one. I love knowing that I help build such an iconic vehicle."
Like the others we spoke with, Diego loves his job,"It's a commitment not just to the company, but to the entire community."
The Wrangler is still in what's called pre-production mode, meaning the SUVs are not yet being built for customers. At this point there is no set date, but the new model is expected on dealer lots sometime early next year.