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Marchionne says Wrangler, Grand Cherokee to be built only in Toledo, Detroit

Sergio-Marchionne-on-NPR

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, in an interview with NPR Friday, said "every Wrangler that you see in the world gets produced in Toledo, Ohio," and he intends to keep it that way.

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Chrysler’s chairman has reaffirmed a solid commitment to America — and to Toledo.

“We have made the decision that we’re going to take some key products such as the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee and protect those as being true American icons, produce them in [the] U.S., and make them available nowhere else,” Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer, said Friday in an interview broadcast on National Public Radio. “And so every Wrangler that you see in the world gets produced in Toledo, Ohio. The Grand Cherokee is produced on Jefferson in downtown Detroit, and it will continue to be made there and it will be distributed globally. I’m not going to replicate that facility anywhere else.”

Speaking from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mr. Marchionne’s comments reiterated — and strengthened — a statement he made to Chrysler employees in October when he said, “Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and constitute the backbone of the brand.”

Those comments came after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested Chrysler Group LLC was looking to move Jeep production to China.

Mr. Marchionne was responding to questions on NPR about whether it made sense for Chrysler to produce vehicles for other markets in those countries.

While committing to keeping signature Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee brands in the United States, he went on to say, “That doesn’t mean that in order for me to get better and stronger at what I do I will not seize opportunities in other jurisdictions where it is simply impossible to use an American asset base to produce and effectively distribute in that jurisdiction.

“It’s impossible to do that in China, and it’s impossible to do that in Russia in an effective way, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Mr. Marchionne said. “It will make us stronger at home.”

Fiat Group SpA and Chrysler Group LLC on Tuesday announced an agreement with Guangzhou Automobile Group to expand their cooperation on passenger car manufacturing, including having Guangzhou build one Jeep model in China for Chrysler for sale in China.

Jeeps were built in China from the mid-1980s until 2009.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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