When Chrysler Group LLC dials up the speed on its Jeep Wrangler production line, its suppliers have to follow suit.
That’s been good news for Mobis North America, which just completed a $10 million project to expand its warehouse, add office space, and upgrade equipment at its plant in the Toledo Assembly Complex.
Mobis is an on-site supplier for Chrysler. Since last summer, it has added 50 full-time hourly employees to bring the total to 320 workers on two shifts. Mobis’ workers are represented by United Auto Workers Local 12, which represents the men and women who work in Chrysler’s facility. The plant also employs 50 salaried workers.
Mobis hosted assorted officials and media Friday to outline the changes and celebrate the expansion. The ceremony was capped off with a rice wine toast. Mobis North America's parent company, Hyundai Mobis, is based in Seoul, South Korea.
When Wrangler production began at the Toledo Assembly Complex in 2006, Mobis was doing 35 vehicles per hour, plant manager Tyson Stoll said. But with the Wrangler in high demand, that wasn’t enough. After several incremental bumps, Mobis cranked up its line speed from 43 jobs per hour to 51 jobs per hour in July.
“There’s a lot of planning, a lot of training, a lot of strategic tools that have to be bought and organized to make that happen,” Mr. Stoll said.
Mobis takes bare frames and bolts on all the Wrangler’s rugged suspension and drivetrain parts, including the engine and transmission.
At 51 jobs per hour, Mobis can build about 200,000 units a year. Chrysler’s Wrangler line runs a bit slower than that. Mr. Stoll said that gives his plant some leeway to catch up if they need to.
In 2011, the Toledo Assembly Complex shipped out 165,166 Wranglers. Through August of this year, the plant had assembled 132,790 Wranglers. About 60 percent were the four-door Unlimted models.
Wrangler sales in the United States are up 20 percent so far this year to 96,380.
“Usually you would hear about how the automotive industry keeps dwindling down,” said Matt Epley, Mobis unit chairman for UAW Local 12. “Well, we’re that positive story that’s saying, hey, we’re back on our feet, we’re moving forward, we’re growing, we’re adding more to the city of Toledo jobs-wise, and that’s why we’re here today.”
Mr. Epley said the plant’s second shift recently set a record by completing 400 jobs in a single shift.
Ted Roberts, Chrysler’s facility manager for the Toledo Assembly Complex, praised the Chrysler-Mobis partnership.
“It’s great the vehicle is selling so well,” he said. "It allows us to do these things, and we really appreciate the efforts that are being done by Mobis to take on some of the culture of Chrysler with World Class Manufacturing ... We’ll reap the benefits of that just as much as they will.”
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