New manager at the Toledo Assembly Complex - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

New manager at the Toledo Assembly Complex

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We had a rare chance to spend time on the new Cherokee assembly lines with the new man in charge of the Toledo Assembly Complex. Chuck Padden has been at the plant several times in various jobs since 1999. Before he took over as plant manager, he was the launch manager for the Cherokee. He's excited to be in charge of what he calls a national icon. Padden is proud of the people and the products at the Toledo Assembly Complex, "We have to make sure the products we build are here for the next generation and we take that very seriously. In this job you are really a steward of a national treasure here in Toledo with the Jeep nameplate."

The Cherokee has driven in strong sales numbers right out of the gates. In just the third full month on dealer lots more than 10,000 were sold, "The sales have been outstanding. We are now expanding on the export markets and bringing in new variations of the Cherokee, like diesel and right hand drive models. We are taking them in to more markets around the world and in the next few weeks we'll start building pilots for the 2015 model year."

Employees on both the Wrangler and Cherokee lines are working overtime to keep up with demand for the Toledo built products, "The workforce puts in a huge effort to build the vehicles. Both the wrangler and the Cherokee sides are working 10 hour days, six days a week, so we've got some things in the works to get them time off."

Right now they build about 800 Wranglers every day and nearly 1,000 Cherokees. This year they're expected to build more than a half million vehicles, "We're going to build a lot of Jeeps this year. We don't talk about exact numbers but will expect to be one of the biggest assembly plants in North America this time next year." The Cherokee lines run on just two shifts at this point, so is there room for more work on those lines? "The new Cherokee body shop was designed to build some other models. Right now we are at full speed with the Cherokee but if the opportunity presents itself we would be able to squeeze more work in. We do have the room but we have out hands full with the Cherokee right now."

To break down the production numbers even further, they build about 100 of the two models every hour at TAC. Of course on the Wrangler side they are always looking at ways to increase production. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said they are looking at all options including the expansion of the building.

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