Production changes coming to Toledo Assembly Complex

Published: Mar. 28, 2018 at 6:05 PM EDT
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An update on a story we've been tracking for years. Production changes are on the way at the Toledo Assembly Complex this spring. Right now two Wrangler models are being made at the plant, but that's about to change.

The new Wrangler is in full production, and the previous model is being made right now as well. However, production of the older model will come to an end in the coming weeks as the employees here gear up to build the new Jeep truck. The truck is expected to be released next year. Auto industry experts say all the changes at this plant make it well positioned in the ever-changing global marketplace.

The Toledo Assembly Complex has gone through some major shifts in recent years. First came the announcement that Wrangler production may have to be moved out of Toledo. After it was decided Wrangler would stay, Cherokee production was moved. From there it was on to a new model and increased volume on the Wrangler lines.

Then there's the upcoming addition of the Jeep truck.

Bernard Swiecki is a Senior Automotive Analyst at the Center for Automotive Research, "To have two plants and two models in Toledo is a fantastic outcome given the uncertainty of a few years ago."

While some may wonder why production of the older Wrangler model is continuing, Swiecki says it is not unusual and there's a simple reason for that, "It all comes down to money. This vehicle is way too critical to the company's profits to take a few months off to change over and not have any to sell. The outgoing model is still hot in the marketplace."

Swiecki adds that the timing is perfect for the new model, "You've got credibility from a decades-long history at a time when the market has moved to those kinds of vehicles with consumer confidence up and cheap fuel. You put all those things together and it's a perfect universe to launch the new Wrangler."

Swiecki says the workforce is a critical part of the transition from model to model, and the accolades Toledo consistently receives are well deserved. The Toledo workforce also has a proven track record when it comes to launches, "So starting with an existing block of people who you know you can count on is huge."

Wranglers are sold all over the world, but only made here for the global marketplace. Swiecki says that is not common,"It is unusual. Automakers typically build where they sell, so this is a gift of sorts to Toledo to have the monopoly on production on such a hot product."

But part of that production is coming to an end. As of right now, April 27th is the target day to end production of the older Wrangler model here in Toledo. The new truck will go through a number of phases as it comes to market, including pre-production models. It is expected on dealer lots in the spring of 2019.