Demand for Wrangler prompts Toledo Jeep plant to run an extra shift over holidays


Chrysler Group LLC will open the Toledo plant that builds the Jeep Wrangler for one extra shift during the traditional holiday shutdown period.

Automakers traditionally shut their assembly plants the week between Christmas and New Year’s. For Chrysler, that shutdown runs from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 this year. But because of strong demand for the Jeep Wrangler, the company decided to squeeze in one extra shift, which will run Dec. 28.

Company spokesman Jodi Tinson said Toledo is the only plant that will run during the shutdown.

Union officials said workers were given the opportunity by seniority to sign up for the extra work. Because the day is considered a holiday, employees who work are paid double time plus holiday pay.

Though it’s fairly uncommon for auto assembly plants to operate through scheduled shutdowns, it has become near commonplace in Toledo. Chrysler elected to keep the Wrangler line going this summer during the two-week period around July 4 when it typically closes its facilities for routine maintenance and plant updates.

The Wrangler line also ran four days last year during the holiday shutdown week.

At the time, Dan Henneman, Jeep unit chairman for the United Auto Workers Local 12, said it was the first time in his nearly 30 years at the plant that had ever happened.

Through September, Wrangler production was up nearly 25 percent compared to 2011. U.S. sales of the Wrangler were up 17 percent through November. The vehicle has become Chrysler Group’s third best-selling, trailing the Ram pickup and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

By contast, General Motors announced Monday it will shut down its Lordstown plant in northeast Ohio for an extra week before the regularly scheduled holiday break.

The plant will be closed from Dec. 17 until Jan. 7.

GM officials said the move is to help curb Chevrolet Cruze inventory heading into a traditionally sluggish period for compact-car sales.