This is a big week for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. as it is scheduled to release its final financial report for 2015 and Sergio Marchionne is expected to announce a re-organization of FCA’s U.S. manufacturing operations that will include production of long-awaited pickup truck from the Jeep brand.
FCA officials said last week that hasn’t detailed the plans yet, but they did confirm the Jeep pickup truck, which Jeep fans have been clamoring for since the old Chrysler Corp. pulled the Jeep Comanche off the market in the mid-1990s so it build additional versions of the very popular Jeep Wrangler, will be added to the Jeep product portfolio in 2017.
Pickup trucks have been part of Jeep’s product portfolio going back to the late 1940s when Willys-Overland, then the owner of the Jeep brand, introduced the very first Jeep pickup, which remained in production until the mid-1960s. American Motors, which acquired the Jeep brand in 1970 also sold a Jeep pickup truck, starting in the early 1980s when compact trucks were popular.
Designers at what is now FCA U.S. have concept vehicles that have demonstrated what a up-to-date Jeep pickup truck might look, notably a the Jeep Gladiator and Jeep J2.
(Jeep sets new sales records in 2015. For more, Click Here.)
Meanwhile, FCA has invested $63 million for a new press line at the company’s Warren Stamping plant in Warren, Michigan, which now feeds parts to the Toledo North plant in Toledo,Ohio, which is expected to become the home for the new Jeep pickup truck.
The new press line is much faster and capable of producing large components, such as doors, roof and hoods from both steel and aluminum.
FCA North America’s Vice President of Manufacturing Brian Harlow acknowledged that it had been more than 15 years since the last press line was installed and that this investment was needed in order to keep up with demand.
(Click Here for details about Sergio Marchionne’s debt-free future for FCA.)
“The good news is that we needed to increase our stamping capacity because FCA keeps selling more cars and trucks,” said Harlow, referencing the 69 straight months of year-over-years sales increases in the U.S. and the best year of sales in the 90-year history of FCA Canada.
“All of this is great for the company, our workers and everyone associated with FCA. From the standpoint of our manufacturing operations, the new Servo Tandem line will help us meet this upsurge in demand.”
The high-speed Servo Tandem Press technology is the first press of its kind at Warren Stamping and the only one currently in operation in the company’s North American stamping operations. Construction for the new press line began in the spring of 2014 and production launched in December 2015.
(To get more information about Jeep’s pickup plans, Click Here.)
The new press line will increase capacity by up to 12,000 hits per day or approximately 3.6 million parts per year. In addition to the new press, Warren Stamping also operates 12 major press lines and three large progressive press lines, bringing total plant capacity to nearly 84 million parts annually. More than 2,000 employees work at the plant.