Detroit, Michigan is known as the “automotive capital of the world” and has the nickname “Motor City”. Before the recent COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) pandemic, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was in full swing with its new direction in revitalizing and expanding its Detroit manufacturing operations. While the plan is put on hold, it is expected to continue as planned once normal operations return to order.
In the meantime, FCA has announced that many of facilities in North America would be helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by manufacturing masks and donating them for first responders and health care workers. But we figured we would take an in-depth look at the company’s future plans for its Detroit’s operations.
With an investment of $1.6 billion, FCA is currently converting two of its former plants at the Mack Avenue Engine Complex to form one new state-of-the-art assembly plant to produce the next-generation Jeep® Grand Cherokee (WL74) and a new three-row version of the Grand Cherokee (WL75) – which has yet to be named. The plant will also manufacture those two vehicles and their electrified models.
Currently, nearly 700 people have been working nearly around the clock since last May to convert the Detroit engine complex into a vehicle assembly site, with the current Mack I facility being prepared for general assembly and Mack II being repurposed as the new body shop. In addition to work on the existing facilities, construction is also progressing on another key component of any assembly plant, the paint shop.
A milestone in the construction project was reached in August, with the installation of the first of the 299 vertical steel columns that will form the skeleton of the new 79,000-square-foot paint shop. Since then, 20 trucks a day have been delivering new equipment for installation across the facility. The first units of the three-row models are expected to roll off the line by the end of 2020, followed by the all-new Grand Cherokee in the first half of 2021. The new Detroit I Assembly Plant as it will be called will also have a tangible impact on employment in the area, with the planned addition of 3,850 new jobs.
Another important piece of the puzzle for the Detroit manufacturing project is the $900 million investment into the Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP). JNAP is the current home of the current Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango and will undergo a huge retooling and modernization upgrade to the plant. The plant will build the next-generation two-row Jeep Grand Cherokee with the updated 2021 Dodge Durango (WD) still be manufactured alongside the Grand Cherokee. Rumors are saying that JNAP will get a name change with the revamp, calling it Detroit 2 Assembly Plant. With the investment comes the addition of 1,100 new jobs to the facility.
An additional $2 billion will be invested amongst other current FCA facilities around the Metro Detroit area. The biggest project being the $1.5 billion investment to the company’s Warren Truck Assembly Plant (WTAP). WTAP is the current home of the popular 2020 Ram 1500 Classic (DS) trucks. The Ram 1500 Classic models will continue to be produced according to our sources till the 2023 model year. However, the all-new Jeep Wagoneer (WS) and Grand Wagoneer, including the electrified versions of both will join the truck there at the plant. It is rumored that the next-generation Dodge Durango (SD) will also join the new full-size Ram 1500-based Wagoneer models after production of the Ram 1500 Classic ends.
Both the Warren Stamping and Sterling Stamping plants will receive more than $400 million in total investment to support the additional production of body panels for the new Jeep vehicles. Another $119 million has been spent, relocating the production of the award-winning Pentastar engine production from the pervious Mack facility, to the Dundee Engine Plant.
As a result of the $4.5 billion investment, FCA looks to create nearly 6,500 new jobs, with almost 5,000 of those in Detroit. We know there are a lot of people who have been waiting for some all-new product from FCA, and Detroit will be manufacturing at least four of those new models very soon.