Forget punch buggy.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reared back Thursday and uncorked a massive $1 billion roundhouse Jeep smash at its automotive competitors.
The company, following month after month of record sales from its Jeep division, announced plans to invest $700 million to retool its Toledo Ohio Assembly Complex as well as an additional $350 million to prepare another plant for Cherokee production.
FCA was already on record from earlier this year that the Toledo Assembly Complex would undergo renovations in preparation for the next generation Wrangler JL and Wrangler Pickup. But the staggering investment amount shows just how committed FCA is to its white hot Jeep brand and its industry-crushing sales figures.
Jeep has posted 33 straight months of record sales, helping FCA to massive gains even though its automotive division continues to struggle. In fact, FCA will end production of its tanking Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 later this year to focus squarely on its Jeep and Ram brand
Under the investment plan, FCA says it anticipates moving Jeep Cherokee production out of Toledo sometime next year to a plant in northern Illinois. The Toledo line would then be expanded in anticipation of the new Wrangler and Wrangler Truck. FCA also expects the Toledo facility to keep churning out the current generation Wrangler JK through at least the end of 2017.
The Toledo complex has built more than 530,000 vehicles in each of the last two years - including a record 244,720 Wranglers last year. FCA said it believes Wrangler production, thanks to these investments, could surpass 350,000 in 2017.