The Wrangler is built in a rather interesting manner at the Toledo Supplier Park: Fiat Chrysler only handles the very final assembly of each vehicle, while two other companies, Kuka, a German firm, and Hyundai-Mobis, a member of the sprawling Hyundai empire, produce the body and chassis, respectively. The vehicles are then transferred over to the FCA part of the park, where they're painted and completed.
This was, as The Detroit News explains, a convenient arrangement back in 2006 when the supplier park opened. Chrysler, which was still owned by Daimler at the time, arranged for Kuka and Mobis to handle production, saving it a huge sum of money. Both suppliers own their own machinery and buildings and employ their own workers. Now that FCA is a relatively healthy entity, though, there's not a lot of need to be sharing profits with two other companies.
"What [FCA boss Sergio Marchionne] would like is to have the advantages of high-capacity utilization, owning that capacity and taking advantage of that for himself versus having a supplier doing some of the things his competitors do internally," David Cole, chairman emeritus at the Ann Arbor, MI-based Center for Automotive Research, told The News. "It really adds another level of complexity to the situation."
While Sergio Marchionne is a man that generally gets what he wants, it seems unlikely that either Mobis or Kuka would give up their role quietly. According to Jon Zapf, Mobis North America's chairperson for UAW Local 12, the company "definitely wants to maintain their part of this production process."
According to The News, Jeep is likely to announce the location of next-generation Wrangler production in June. Expect to hear much more on this one in the coming months.