Detroit becomes 'Jeep City' with first new auto assembly plant in 30 years

1 day ago

Inside the first new auto assembly plant built in the Motor City since 1991, the smell of hot metal hangs in the air as new Jeep Gr Cherokee L SUVs head down the welding line

Topics
detroit | Jeep Gr Cherokee SRT

Reuters  |  DETROIT 

DETROIT (Reuters) - Inside the first new auto assembly plant built in the Motor City since 1991, the smell of hot metal hangs in the air as new Jeep Gr Cherokee L SUVs head down the welding line.

For Stellantis NV, that is the smell of money. For the City of Detroit, it means nearly 5,000 jobs.

Stellantis opened the doors of its new $1.6 billion Mack Avenue assembly complex on Thursday, showing off parts of a 3 million square foot complex completed launched into production largely during the pemic.

The Gr Cherokee L vehicles on the assembly line are the first of a new generation of Jeep's best-selling model line, aimed at exping the br's sales to customers who want an SUV with three rows of seats.

Until now, Gr Cherokees only offered seating for five. Now, with room for as many as seven passengers, Jeep can take on rivals such as Ford Motor Co's Explorer, General Motors Co's GMC Acadia larger SUVs from European Japanese brs.

The plant, which began building vehicles in March, now is operating three shifts a day, plant manager Michael Brieda said.

In a tight labor market, Brieda said the biggest challenge the plant had "was finding people capable of working in a manufacturing environment." Job applicants were given dexterity tests as part of their interviews, he said.

About 2,100 Detroit City residents have been hired at the plant, the company said.

The new Jeep plant underscores the split personality of the United States vehicle market, w most of the vehicles coming down the Mack assembly line will be sold.

Tesla Inc is the industry's most valuable automaker thanks to its lead in electric vehicle technology.

But for Detroit's automakers, dem for pickup trucks decked-out gasoline-fueled SUVs still pays the bills.

As the Mack assembly complex accelerates, Stellantis will have two adjacent factories in Detroit capable of building 500,000 or more Gr Cherokee models a year. The nearby Jefferson North Jeep plant was built in 1991 - until now was the Motor City's newest assembly plant.

Mario Holmes, the manager who oversaw the development of the Gr Cherokee L, said much effort went into designing a new, more efficient architecture that uses aluminum high-strength steel to cut weight. Though the new model has three rows of seats, it's in the same weight class as five-passenger SUVs, he said.

T will be an electrified powertrain offered, but details on that will come later, he said.

One sign of the importance of the Gr Cherokee L is that Brieda, the plant manager, said he has had no problems getting enough semiconductors for the new model, even as Stellantis is idling assembly lines for other vehicles amid a global shortage of the chips needed for modern motoring systems.

(Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

(Only the headline picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Stard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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