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Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Published: 1/20/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Toledo led Jeep production in ’13

Complex on pace to be Chrysler’s highest volume plant in ’14

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
A Jeep Wrangler next to the assembly line at Chrysler Group's Toledo Assembly complex, in Toledo. A Jeep Wrangler next to the assembly line at Chrysler Group's Toledo Assembly complex, in Toledo.
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The Toledo Assembly complex built more Jeeps than any other Chrysler Group LLC plant in 2013.

Chrysler said the Toledo plant built nearly 296,000 Jeeps last year, up 8 percent from 275,000 in 2012.

Production of the hot-selling Jeep Wrangler was up 14 percent to a record 223,039. Almost 70 percent of Wranglers built were the four-door Unlimited model. The plant also built 72,958 of the new Jeep Cherokee. Production of that vehicle started in late June, with a second shift starting production in August. The Cherokee went on sale in late October.

Chrysler added about 1,800 jobs to the plant in 2013, bringing the total employment there to about 4,000 people.

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Chrysler Group’s highest-volume plant was the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, where Chrysler builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango.

Chrysler said the plant built 331,402 vehicles last year, making it the busiest plant within the firm.

That designation could change next year, however.

Speaking to the Toledo Rotary Club late last year, former plant manager Zach Leroux said the Toledo Assembly complex is expected to build more than 500,000 vehicles in 2014. That would easily make Toledo Chrysler Group’s highest production plant and one of the busiest automobile plants in all of North America.

The company hopes to squeeze out a little more Wrangler production this year and will have a full year of production of the Cherokee.

Chrysler Group hopes to deliver 2.8 million vehicles worldwide this year. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said last week at the North American International Auto Show he believes the company can deliver 1 million Jeeps this year, though some analysts have questioned that. The company sold 731,565 Jeeps worldwide last year.

Jeep — and Toledo — stand to benefit from the company’s push to sell more Cherokees worldwide. It’s possible Jeep could consider building the Cherokee elsewhere in the world for local markets, but for now, Toledo is the only place the Cherokee is produced.

Jeep officials have said they won’t build Wranglers anywhere other than Toledo.



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