FCA to build new plant in Detroit for the next Jeep Grand Cherokee
The factory will build the next Grand Cherokee and a three-row Jeep.
Jake HolmesReviews Editor
While studying traditional news journalism in college, Jake realized he was smitten by all things automotive and wound up with an internship at Car and Driver. That led to a career writing news, review and feature stories about all things automotive at Automobile Magazine, most recently at Motor1. When he's not driving, fixing or talking about cars, he's most often found on a bicycle.
FCA announced Tuesday that it plans to build a new factory in Detroit. The factory won't be brand-new, but rather will be built on the site of the company's existing Mack Avenue Engine Complex, with the conversion process costing $1.6 billion. The plant is earmarked to build the next-generation
Jeep Grand Cherokee
long-awaited three-row SUV.
FCA says the factory would also be used to build plug-in hybrid variants, as well as offering the "flexibility" for pure-electric versions of those vehicles down the road. Construction on the plant is intended to begin by the end of the second quarter of this year, with the first three-row
set to roll off the line by the end of 2020 and the next-gen Grand Cherokee arriving in the first half of 2021. The plant conversion is expected to add 3,850 jobs.
The main factory plan won't happen in a vacuum and is part of a big shuffle at Jeep production plants in Michigan. For instance, FCA would spend $900 million to overhaul the Jefferson North Assembly Plant so it can build the
and next-gen Grand Cherokee. Meanwhile, production of the Pentastar V6 engine at the existing Mack plant will relocate to FCA's Dundee plant.
Tuesday's announcement also included details on production of two other new Jeep models. FCA will retool its Warren Truck plant to build the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, "as well as their electrified counterparts," from early 2021. Those models were officially confirmed way back in 2017. That alone is expected to add 1,400 jobs, FCA said. The factory will also continue to build the Ram 1500 Classic -- also known as the outgoing
pickup -- to meet customer demand.
FCA says that the factory announcements reflect its deliberate pivot from small cars to the far more popular -- and more profitable -- Jeep and Ram brands.
"Today's announcement represents the next step in that strategy. It allows Jeep to enter two white space segments that offer significant margin opportunities and will enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles," FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a statement.
FCA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Detroit with regard to acquiring property that'll be needed for the factory expansions and updates, and the city now has 60 days to respond. FCA also says that the announcements are contingent on "development packages with the state and other local governments," likely meaning tax breaks.