An employee at the Windsor Assembly Plant installs the 16-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The Windsor plant launched gas- and hybrid-powered versions of the Pacifica minivan during 2016.

An employee at the Windsor Assembly Plant installs the 16-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The Windsor plant launched gas- and hybrid-powered versions of the Pacifica minivan during 2016. 

Manufacturing | December 30 2016

2016 in the rearview mirror: Plant investments ready FCA US for next-gen vehicles

While the men and women at our North American manufacturing operations are around-the-clock busy, building the vehicles you love to drive, there are also other activities that make our manufacturing hum.

During 2016, FCA US announced more than $2.6 billion in investments that would create or retain more than 1,900 jobs. In addition, FCA US celebrated two manufacturing launches of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan in Windsor, marked a milestone at our Detroit plant and saw nine facilities earn World Class Manufacturing awards.

Investments: People and Plants

The core of the investments centered around optimizing our manufacturing operations to support our current lineup, while getting ready to shift vehicles to new assembly locations.

January: Warren Stamping (Michigan) celebrated the installation of a high-speed, 180-inch Servo Tandem Press. The new press line increased capacity by up to 12,000 hits per day or approximately 3.6 million parts per year. The $63 million investment was announced in 2014.

April: FCA US is investing $74.7 million in the Trenton Engine Complex (Michigan) to retool the north plant to produce the next-generation four-cylinder engine. The investment keeps 245 jobs. With production slated to begin in the third quarter of 2017, the four-cylinder will provide increased power, while improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions.

July: With Jeep® Cherokee production moving from Toledo to Belvidere Assembly Plant (Illinois), FCA US announced a $350 million investment to ready the plant, which will create about 300 new jobs. At the Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, FCA US announced a $700 million investment to retool the plant, making way for the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. About 700 jobs will be added.

Also this month, FCA US announced a $1.48 billion investment in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (Michigan). The investment to retool the plant will enable employees to build the next-generation Ram 1500 and support the future growth of the Ram brand.

August: The fruits of an investment, first announced in 2015, were celebrated at the Sterling Stamping Plant (Sterling Heights, Michigan), the world’s largest stamping plant. Installation of two extra-large, 180-inch High Speed Servo Tandem press lines and one large Servo Progressive press line has enabled the plant to increase capacity by 30%.

Celebrations & a Major Milestone

To say it was a good year at Windsor Assembly Plant (Ontario) would be an understatement. In February, it celebrated the start of production of the newest version of the minivan, the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Then, just this month, the industry’s first electrified minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid started rolling down the line.

Production of the Pacifica minivan came after FCA US invested $744 million USD, or over $1 billion CAD (based on the exchange rate in December 2015), to upgrade the Windsor plant.

In May, Jefferson North Assembly Plant (Detroit) celebrated the 6,000,000th vehicle made since the plant opened in 1992. The special vehicle was a 2016 75th Anniversary Special Edition Jeep Grand Cherokee.

World Class Manufacturing

Employees at Tipton Transmission Plant (Ind.) work on the valve bodies. In 2016, TTP earned Bronze designation in WCM.

Employees at Tipton Transmission Plant (Ind.) work on the valve bodies. In 2016, TTP earned Bronze designation in WCM.

During 2016, the ranks of FCA plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico with a World Class Manufacturing (WCM) designation grew from 13 to 20, with two achieving silver. .

WCM focuses on eliminating waste, increasing productivity, and improving quality and safety in a systematic and organized way by engaging employees to provide and implement suggestions on how to improve their jobs and their plants. This promotes a strong sense of ownership.

FCA US plants making WCM news were:

  • Silver Designation: Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio) and Saltillo South Engine Plant (Mexico)
  • Bronze Designation: Tipton Transmission Plant (Indiana); Indiana Transmission Plant I in Kokomo; Belvidere Assembly Plant (Illinois); Mack Avenue Engine Plant (Detroit); Toledo Machining (Ohio); Warren Truck Assembly Plant (Michigan); and Saltillo Van Assembly Plant (Mexico)

Finally, in showing another “world class” side of FCA US manufacturing employees, we highlighted a few on Giving Tuesday as select examples of the company’s involvement in its communities. Additionally, employees from FCA US manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana donated $3.03 million to their respective United Way organizations during 2016.

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Mike Driehorst

Thanks for stopping by. I lead the corporate social media efforts for FCA US, which means I oversee things like content, community management, outreach, monitoring and most anything else that comes with social media management. Being a lifelong metro Toledo, Ohio, resident, the passion for Jeep® has always been evident.
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Thanks for stopping by. I lead the corporate social media efforts for FCA US, which means I oversee things like content, community management, outreach, monitoring and most anything else that comes with social media management. Being a lifelong metro Toledo, Ohio, resident, the passion for Jeep® has always been evident. Since joining FCA in late 2010, it’s been inspiring to get a first-hand view of that same level of passion for our all of the company’s vehicles, past and present. It’s that kind of true Mopar-or-no-car spirit that reminds me every day that FCA doesn’t simply make cars and trucks, we make vehicles that develop community among its owners. And that’s what I try to portray in the corporate social voice.