Workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Toledo Assembly Complex are expected to stop their lines for a few minutes late this week to acknowledge something they've never done before: build over 500,000 Jeeps in one year.
Unprecedented global demand for the plant's two products -- the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee -- transformed Toledo into the second busiest assembly plant in North America this year.
Toledo trails only Nissan's massive assembly complex in Smyrna, Tenn., which is on pace to produce about 25 percent more vehicles in 2014 than Toledo is.
Production at several other large North American assembly plants -- Volkswagen's Puebla, Mexico, complex, Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Ky., and Honda's plant in Marysville, Ohio -- is down so far this year, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Of the 10 largest assembly plants in North America, Nissan's Smyrna complex and FCA's Toledo, Windsor (Ontario) and Jefferson North (Detroit) plants are the only ones with production higher than in 2013, according to the most recent estimates.
Vehicle production at Toledo has nearly doubled compared with 2013, when output of the Jeep Cherokee was ramping up. It is also a third higher than in the facility's previous best year, 2007, when Toledo pumped out 377,911 Jeep Wranglers and Libertys and Dodge Nitros.
Plant and union officials in Toledo said they were challenged by CEO Sergio Marchionne to top 500,000 vehicles in 2014 as part of his goal to build and sell over 1 million Jeeps this year. About 5,100 people work at the Toledo Assembly Complex.
Through November, Jeep sales are up 44 percent to 629,074 in the United States, the brand's largest global market. Wrangler and Cherokee are the second- and third-best-selling models through November, just a few thousand units behind Jeep's top-selling Grand Cherokee. c