With Land Deals Wrapped Up, Fiat Chrysler Moves Ahead With Jeep Product Bonanza

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
with land deals wrapped up fiat chrysler moves ahead with jeep product bonanza

Wrangling between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the city of Detroit, and a prolific landowner reached an end on Friday, with all three parties signing deals designed to bring more Jeeps to the city.

As part of a $4.5 plant investment strategy announced in February, FCA wants to convert its Mack Avenue Engine Complex into an automobile assembly plant, earmarked for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and a second, larger model. The adjacent Jefferson North plant, which currently builds Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos, won’t see its product roster change, though it will see cash for expansion and interior upgrades.

Once unionized FCA workers get first crack at the 4,950 jobs, remaining positions will go to Detroit residents.

While FCA stated in February that it hoped to start construction on the Mack Avenue facility in the second quarter of this year, the project hinged on acquiring 215 acres of land — including 82.2 acres held by a Moroun-owned company.

From the Detroit News:

The most complicated piece of the deal involved acquiring 82.2 acres of land from Moroun-owned Crown Enterprises Inc. The city struck a deal with the Morouns to pay $43.5 million and swap 117 acres of land in return for the parcel at 12141 Charlevoix St. The Moroun property was by far the most expensive, as the city acquired the other 132 acres for $4.6 million.

The 117 acres included in the land swap is scattered throughout the city in about 10 different locations, Mayor Mike Duggan said, but did not immediately provide details. Most of the parcels were pieces of land adjacent to Moroun-owned properties.

As of Friday, 208 of the 2015 acres were in FCA’s hands, though Duggan said the remaining seven acres (owned by rail company Conrail) is expected to change hands “shortly.”

For its part, FCA agreed pony up $35 million to fund a raft of community benefits, the Detroit Free Press reports, including “$19 million for workforce training and education, with millions more to build a buffer wall around the new plant and to demolish or renovate homes in the area.”

Late CEO Sergio Marchionne saw the Jeep brand as FCA’s golden ticket, and that outlook haven’t changed under successor Mike Manley. Once FCA moves Pentastar engine production out of Mack Avenue, work begins to ready the facility for next-generation Grand Cherokee production. Joining the revamped model is “an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models,” the automaker claims.

It’s assumed this new Jeep is an extended version of the new Grand Cherokee; at the very least, it borrows the model’s platform and numerous other components, but not its name. We’ll see production start on this model first, with the new entry appearing by the end of 2020. Assembly begins on the next-gen Grand Cherokee in the first half of 2021.

Elsewhere in Michigan, FCA has announced the necessary cash to bring the long-promised Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer to fruition. The automaker bumped its previous commitment to Warren Truck to $1.5 billion in February, ensuring that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, plus their hybrid variants, will see production in early 2021.

With two body-on-frame Jeeps now muscling into Warren, production of the Ram Heavy Duty line, initially planned for that facility, pulled a U-turn and headed back to Mexico.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on May 04, 2019

    Crumbling infrastructure finally pays off ( for someone )! Honestly, how bad are the roads there that a mere SUV won't cut it anymore? FCA might be relying on the historical precedent of Jeep, though: my friend's 'Jeep' hurls itself into Park when some tall grass is sensed, she says.

  • Rudiger Rudiger on May 05, 2019

    Funny how FCA's fortunes are riding so much on Jeep/Ram. In fact, can anyone imagine a world where FCA eventually overtakes GM and Ford, simply because of Jeep and Ram? I can.

    • See 2 previous
    • Steve203 Steve203 on May 05, 2019

      @golden2husky "Anybody see a problem with that? While one cannot fault a manufacturer from going where the sales are, such a one basket approach has its pitfalls." An even better comparison would be 1958. Big three models were becoming larger and more garish every year. The economy went a bit soft in 58, people started looking for a lower priced alternative, and discovered Rambler. By 61, Rambler had replaced Plymouth as the 3rd best selling brand in the US. The big three were forced to introduce compact models to compete because Rambler was eating their lunch. On this go around, the big three still make small models, but they are all CUVs and priced $3,000 to $5,000 more than the passenger cars they share platforms with, while the passenger car versions are discontinued. If people start worrying about their solvency again they will refuse to pay thousands extra to sit 5" higher. You can buy an SE trim Corolla sedan for $3,000 less than an Ecosport SE or Tran LT. A Kia Rio hatchback is $6,000 less than an Ecosport SE or Trax LT.

  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
  • Michael Eck With those mods, I wonder if it's tuned...
  • Mike-NB2 I'm not a Jeep guy, but I really, really like the 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe concept.
  • William I'm a big fan of 70s Lincolns. I really liked the 1980s Mark Vl. I thought it was very classy, and I never thought of it as a restyled Town Car. I did own a 1990 LSC, it was black over black leather interior. I loved the LSC as soon as they were introduced. I loved the sound of the duel exhaust, I thought it fit the car perfectly. I never had any problems with it. The 5.0 is a great engine, and never had any issues with the air suspension system. It had the the analog dash and I made good use of the message center. I highly recommend this Mark. The black paint and interior fit the car and me perfectly.