Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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Dodge Nitro rolls out of production at Toledo plant

Sales started strong, but popularity plunged


The end of the Nitro means more capacity to make the Jeep Liberty. Its sales were up 36 percent this year through November.

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The last Dodge Nitro rolled off the line Friday morning at Chrysler Group LLC's Toledo Assembly complex, marking the end of a model that made a splashy debut but never gained much of a foothold in the crowded small sport utility vehicle segment.

Introduced in late 2006 as a 2007 model, the Nitro initially sold well, peaking at almost 75,000 units in 2007. But sales fell in 2008 as the entire U.S. auto industry was struck by the recession, and the Nitro never recovered. Through November of this year, Dodge had sold about 22,500 Nitros.

The last one made, painted white, came off the line at about 10:30 a.m., Chrysler officials said.

Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler chief executive officer, said on his most recent visit to Toledo that said the Nitro, which he called a "knockoff" of the Jeep Liberty, should never have been built.

The two SUVs shared a platform, many components, and an overall boxy appearance.

Although the Nitro was slightly longer and wider, it didn't have the same four-wheel-drive capability as the Liberty.

Perhaps the best news for Chrysler from the demise of the Nitro is that it now has more production capacity for the better-selling Liberty.

Sales of the Liberty have been charging forward, with 60,523 units purchased in the United States through November -- a 36 percent gain from the same period last year.

Last month Toledo workers made 2,500 Nitros and just over 6,900 Libertys. The line now will build only the Liberty.

"What would have been Nitros will now be Libertys," Chrysler spokesman Jodi Tinson said.

Demand has been so strong for the Liberty and the Jeep Wrangler that both lines will work between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Ms. Tinson said each line will work one 10-hour shift from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30.

"The employees were very receptive to the opportunity to work," she said. "Demand for the Wrangler and Liberty is growing and has increased and those vehicles are being shipped all over the world from Toledo. To have four extra days of production on those vehicles is significant."

Toledo is the only Chrysler assembly plant that will be working during the traditional week-long holiday shutdown.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: or 419-724-6134.

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