THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Chrysler will keep the Jeep Wrangler production line moving all summer long as it labors to meet demand for the popular Toledo-built sport utility vehicle.
This year through April, Jeep sold nearly 42,000 Wranglers in the United States, up 31 percent from 2011. Wrangler is the second-best-selling Jeep model behind the Grand Cherokee and Chrysler Group's fifth-best-selling vehicle overall, trailing the Ram pickup, Grand Cherokee, Dodge Caravan, and Chrysler 200.
Sales outside the United States have been brisk as well.
To keep up with that demand, Chrysler will not shut down the plant for the traditional two-week maintenance and update period that usually falls around the July 4 holiday.
Chrysler spokesman Jodi Tinson said workers were informed of the decision Wednesday.
"It's good news for us," said Dan Henneman, Jeep unit chairman for UAW Local 12, which represents workers at the assembly complex.
During the traditional shutdowns, workers are essentially given a two-week unpaid vacation. Without a stoppage, those on the Wrangler line will get an extra two paychecks this year.
Both shifts at the Wrangler plant are already working overtime, and the plant runs two out of every three Saturdays.
Through March, Wrangler production was up 15 percent from last year, and further gains are possible.
A plan to shift 25 workers to the Wrangler production line to build an extra 100 or so vehicles a day remains in the works, though that isn't expected to be completed until June.
The Toledo plant is the only one in the world that makes Wranglers.
Jeep also builds the Liberty in Toledo, and Ms. Tinson said the Liberty line would be shut down the weeks of July 2 and July 9. Production will resume after the shutdown, though Chrysler will idle the line for several months starting in late summer to retool the plant for the next-generation Liberty -- the name of which hasn't been announced.
Liberty sales are up 19 percent this year.
A total of four Chrysler plants in North America will remain open through the usual shutdown period.
This week, Chrysler announced plans to skip the summer shutdown at the Jefferson North factory in Detroit that builds the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. Grand Cherokee sales are up 37 percent for the year. Workers at that plant are also working overtime and Saturdays.
On Wednesday, Chrysler announced there would be no summer shutdowns at its plants in Toluca, Mexico, and Belvidere, Ill. The Toluca plant makes the Dodge Journey, Fiat 500, and Fiat Freemont. The Freemont is a Fiat-tweaked version of the Journey sold in Europe.
The Belvidere plant produces the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, and this week began producing the new Dodge Dart compact car. Engines for the Dart are made at Chrysler's facility in Dundee, Mich.
Two other factories -- Sterling Heights, Mich., and Saltillo, Mexico -- will shut down for only one week instead of two.
Chrysler has posted year-over-year sales gains for 25 consecutive months and sold 33 percent more vehicles this year through April than the company did last year.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: email@example.com or 419-724-6134.