This story has been updated with new information.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to lay off more than 3,000 hourly workers as moves into the next stage of its manufacturing transformation, shifting car production to plants outside of the U.S., and allowing U.S. plants to build the company’s more profitable trucks and SUVs.
FCA expects to temporarily lay off 3,200 workers starting in April as it begins $700 million retooling of a plant in Toledo, Ohio, to build the next-generation Wrangler. The workers will be laid off for up to six months, according to documents the company filed with the city and the state, and reported by the (Toledo) Blade.
The layoffs were not a surprise, Jodi Tinson, an FCA spokesperson, told the Detroit Free Press. The plant currently produces the Jeep Cherokee and needed to end Cherokee production in Toledo in an adjacent plant and prepare for production of a new Wrangler there.
When the workers return, they will have new co-workers as the reorganization is expected to create 700 new jobs, FCA said. The additional workers would likely be hired in a “phased-in approach, as opposed to hiring them all on day one,” Tinson said to the Free Press.
(FCA’s Marchionne races to answer future product questions. Click Here for the story.)
As part of the massive shuffling of products and plants, the Jeep Cherokee will move from Toledo to a plant in Belvidere, Illinois., where FCA is spending $350 million to retool for the Cherokee. The plant that currently produces the Cherokee is called Toledo North.
The Wrangler is currently built at the Toledo South plant. Once the North plant is set, then production will shift there. Ultimately, the South plant will build Wranglers and a pickup based off the Wrangler. and will need to retool Toledo North to produce the new Wrangler.
FCA is also in the midst of a study that will determine whether or not the platform developed for Alfa Romeo’s new sport utility, the Stelvio, which was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, will serve as the same for the Jeep Grand Cherokee as well.
(To see more about Marchionne pushing for an FCA manufacturing revival, Click Here.)
The Grand Cherokee is the single most important vehicle in the FCA line-up, according to Marchionne, who also hinted the next generation version could wind up being built at more than one plant in order to expand the vehicle’s sales beyond North America.
For the time being, the Grand Cherokee will continue to be built at the Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit, but the changeover will be a challenge for the company because of the Grand Cherokee’s importance.
All in all, Marchionne will end up revamping five plants at a cost of about $3.5 billion.
(Click Here for more about FCA’s Jeep manufacturing plans.)
Facilities in Belvidere, Illinois, Toledo, Ohio, and Sterling Heights and Warren, Michigan, will be re-tooled as part of Marchionne’s plan to boost truck and SUV production. The Sterling Heights assembly plant will be re-tooled for a second time, starting later this year to build the next generation Ram Truck.
Tags: FCA Toledo layoffs, FCA Toledo plans, FCA U.S. plant transformation, FCA laying off 3200, FCA manufacturing plans, FCA news, FCA retooling Toledo plant, Jeep Wranger plant retooling, TheDetroitBureau.com., auto news, jeep news, michael strong, thedetroitbureau