Toledo continues fight for Jeep Wrangler production, despite mayor's death

Where will the next-generation Jeep Wrangler be built? That's an open question, but it's one that the city of Toledo, OH desperately wants to be the answer to. The city suffered a major blow, though, with the death of Mayor Michael Collins earlier this month.

Collins had been the city's biggest champion during talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, before suffering a fatal heart attack on Feb. 6. But Collins' tragic death isn't dampening the city's desire to carry on as the home of the Wrangler.

" The mayor's passing is tragic. But on Monday, when I came to work, I knew exactly what I needed to do and exactly what needed to be done," the city's director of development, Matt Sapara, told the Detroit Free Press.

According to the Freep, Sapara said Toledo and the state of Ohio have delivered an outline of a development plan that would give FCA the ability to buy an extra 100 acres to expand the factory. This is to help accommodate FCA's targeted output of 300,000 to 350,000 next-generation Wranglers, up from the 240,000 the factory can make now.

"Our target in the proposal is to provide a way to increase the production capacity to a number that allows Fiat Chrysler to meet its business model," Sapara told the Freep, adding that the land could be available later this summer.

FCA, meanwhile, has shown a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards Toledo production, with CEO Sergio Marchionne openly discussing the pros and cons of continuing to build the Wrangler south of the Michigan border.

"We are going to take a very hard look at this without ignoring what these guys have done," Marchionne told the Free Press at last month's Detroit Auto Show, adding that he'd like to keep production there, provided the cost of retooling is comparable to relocating to another facility.

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