2017 is undoubtedly going to be a headline year for Fiat-Chrysler’s Jeep, who’s planning to launch a new Wrangler this year. According to a report in The Toledo Blade the new JL Wrangler will begin production in November, but the production shuffle required to make it happen is beginning now.
According to the report FCA will end Jeep Cherokee production at its Toledo, Ohio plant in early April. This will give the company nearly six months to retool the plant for Wrangler production to start by November. While regular Wrangler production will start in November, Union officials have stated test-runs will start much earlier, typical of any product launch.
FCA previously announced that the Cherokee would move to the company’s plant in Belvidere, Illinois, sometime next year. Fiat Chrysler has committed to investing $350 million in the Belvidere plant for this project. Local media is reporting that changes at that plant have already started as it phases out the Jeep Compass and Patriot.
The shuffle will not impact production of the current JK Wrangler in Toledo. That section of the Toledo plant will be retooled in 2018 for production of an alleged pickup truck variant of the new Wrangler. FCA has declined to comment on the plans.
Several details of the 2018 Wrangler have leaked out over the last few months. The design is expected to be an evolution of the current iconic SUV, but less mass and new powertrains are expected to modernize the Wrangler significantly. Insiders have confirmed FCA will offer the company’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
We can expect further details on the new Wrangler as its alleged November launch nears.