Toledo, Ohio, Mayor Michael Collins -- a leading champion to keep Jeep Wrangler production in the city -- died Friday after being taken off life support, The Blade newspaper in Toledo reported.
Collins, 70, suffered cardiac arrest Sunday afternoon, Feb. 1, while driving. He had been on life support at a local hospital since he was discovered unconscious behind the wheel of his city-provided SUV, which had struck a utility pole.
The first-term mayor had been stewarding the city’s bid to keep production of the Jeep Wrangler at Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly Complex. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned in October that continuing to build the next-generation SUV at the plant would be prohibitively expensive.
The city has been purchasing land near the assembly complex in recent months in hopes of persuading Marchionne to expand the Wrangler factory. The plant will likely need a new body shop and paint shop for the next-generation Wrangler, which is to be made of aluminum.
Marchionne said at the Automotive News World Congress in January that he planned to “spend a lot more time with our team,” as well as with Collins and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, to discuss ways to keep Wrangler production in Toledo.
“And if I can find a way to make it happen, I’d like to keep it there,” Marchionne said at the time.
Jeep has been a Toledo mainstay since the 1940s.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Mayor Collins,” Marchionne said in a statement today. “On this sad occasion, we recall his long and dedicated service to the City of Toledo and more specifically, his tireless support for the FCA US Toledo Assembly Complex. We will truly miss his leadership and send our deepest sympathy to his family and to the people of Toledo.”