Fiat Chrysler may be reconsidering plans to convert its ancient Warren Truck Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit to produce luxury Jeep SUVs once the plant stops making Ram 1500 pickups in 2018.
At a press event last month in nearby Sterling Heights, Mich., FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne seemed to cast doubt on what would be a costly plan to convert the 78-year-old truck plant from body-on-frame to unibody construction.
"We're looking at ways to continue to utilize Warren in a significant way," Marchionne told reporters. Warren Truck, he said, is "a very old plant ... that needs significant investment."
During negotiations with the UAW in 2015, FCA officials told the union negotiators that the automaker planned to build the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer luxury SUVs, which will share a platform with the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and debut in 2019, at Warren. The Ram 1500 was intended to move to nearby Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in 2018.
An overhaul would be necessary to bring the Warren plant into modern times.
Warren Truck was built during the Great Depression and was an integral part of Chrysler's massive "Dodge City" complex. Located about 8 miles from downtown Detroit -- and outside the city limits -- Warren Truck Assembly has been making pickups since 1938.
The 3.3-million-square-foot plant has more than 4,450 employees, including nearly 4,200 hourly employees working three shifts to produce the Ram 1500. Most of those employees likely will transfer to a revamped Sterling Heights Assembly about 10 miles away when the next-generation Ram goes into production.