February 26, 2019
By Nick Carey
DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said on Tuesday it will invest $4.5 billion in five plants to build new models of Jeeps, hoping to bolster the brand so it can compete more effectively in the lucrative market for large SUVs currently dominated by rivals General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co.
The plants will also create 6,500 jobs in Michigan, Fiat Chrysler said in an announcement, around three months after GM announced it would not allocate new products to five plants in North America that mostly produce less-popular sedan models. GM workers and political officials including U.S. President Donald Trump have blasted GM for the decision which is likely to close those plants.
FCA’s plans include turning an engine plant in Detroit into an assembly plant. The company has also reversed a decision to shift production of heavy-duty trucks from Mexico to Michigan in 2020, freeing up the Michigan facility to produce Jeep models.
The automaker said the plans included investments to enable three Michigan plants to produce hybrid and fully-electric Jeep models.
FCA plans to start construction on the new Detroit facility in the third quarter of 2019 and to start production of a new three-row SUV by the end of 2020, followed by a revamped version of the Grand Cherokee in the first half of 2021.
The automaker will also start production of its Wagoneer model and the Grand Wagoneer, a new three-row luxury SUV, at a plant in Warren in the first half of 2021. Early last year, FCA had said it would move heavy-duty truck production to that plant, but it will now remain in the company’s Saltillo, Mexico, plant.
(Reporting By Nick Carey)