T he new Jeep Cherokee begins production in June. The SUV is certainly not your traditional Jeep. Chrysler hopes its edgy design will attract new customers in the United States and foreign markets.
B ut what does it mean for the people who will build it? " I t means 2 things, it means job security for 1 thing because the Jeep Liberty that we were building was not real successful in the market place and we launched that car in 2001 on 3 shifts, then it went to 2 shifts, and then it went to 1 shift and it was running 1 shift half the time," explains Bruce Baumhower, President UAW Local 12.
B aumhower says all 1200 workers will return, plus 1300 new employees, and that won't be the only new thing , "this plant has been gutted. we're getting really a brand new plant. the new body shop opened up with just the steel girders on the walls. all the tooling and equipment is the latest greatest technology."
W ith the new technology, workers will create an SUV that shocks some people because of its design. The traditional boxy shape, out. In, a curvy and sleek body. Also, smaller headlights, and a memorable grill design.
A uto analyst Mike Jackson says the changes are part of Chrysler's commitment to performing at a higher level, "products are being designed and executed for core market, but at the same time, looking at the idea of conquering and capturing additional buyers in markets around the world."
P erforming on a global level has benefited another Jeep brand, the Grand Cherokee made in Detroit, "That facility is running on 3 shifts right now because of all of the global demand. Certainly there's strong demand in the U.S. and North American markets. And so the same thing is going to apply there for Cherokee."
B aumhower says the new Cherokee is confident the new Cherokee will have the same type of success for the Toledo plant, "having seen the marketplace and my own opinion of what I think it's going to do in the market place, I can see us going full capacity which would be 3 shifts at some point."
B aumhower adds the increased plant production will also creating a domino effect for other businesses in Northwest Ohio. "It creates another opportunity in the supplier industry here in Northwest Ohio. We have companies right here in Toledo and in Northwood who make the batteries for these plants." Companies like Johnson Controls which make batteries, seats, door panels and other parts that will be used in the Cherokee."
P roduction on the Cherokee is expected to begin in June, and Chrysler says the 2014 Cherokee will be in showrooms by August.