Manufacturing

FCA plans to spend $23 million to build a customization plant in Toledo

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 will be built just down the road from the new plant.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

As first reported in the Toledo Blade, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) wants to spend $23 million to build a new facility in Toledo, Ohio near where the company currently produces the Jeep Wrangler. The site is the location of the former Textileather and MedCorp properties. The price of the property? $1.

Details of the deal are still being worked out. Among them is a debate in Toledo City Council over the city's intent to use tax increment financing (TIF) for the property prior to the sale. Typically, these types of agreements allow cities to divert future tax revenue from a site toward a project that is in the public's interest such as an economic development or public improvement project.

Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept Jeep owners frequently customize their vehicles. The new Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Concept showed off some of those possible mods last year. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Council is scheduled to take up the issue on January 5 during their regular meeting. If the agenda item passes, the TIF will be in place for 30 years. The City is expected to use the money to recoup the $6.8 million they have put into the site.

The $23 million commitment to the over 40-acre site includes the construction of a building that is between 150,000 and 250,000 square feet. This building will be used as a vehicle customization facility, according to an agreement reached between the City of Toldeo and FCA.

That agreement also specified that the facility will employ approximately 300 workers with an estimated payroll of $12 million, however market conditions and technological advancements may change those numbers.

FCA and the City have agreed to a four-year signature-to-occupancy timeline. Should the building not be completed and permitted for occupancy by that point, a 12-month extensions can be granted. After that, should the condition continue, the City has the option to purchase the property back from FCA for $1.

As part of the agreement, two streets will be given up, Twining Street and Medcorp Drive. A parking lot will be constructed on the site.

Additional infrastructure improvements are likely and will be paid for by FCA and the City, as laid out in the contract.

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The Grand Cherokee gets a plug-in powertrain for the first time.

Jeep

Jeep just announced the all-new fifth-generation 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee, featuring a new exterior and interior, updated tech, and class-leading capabilities from its optional engines. However, the big headline here is the new Grand Cherokee 4xe, a plug-in hybrid SUV that follows the Jeep Wrangler into electrified off-roading.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The 4xe makes all-electric off-roading possible.Jeep

As it did with the Wrangler, Jeep electrified the Grand Cherokee for the new model year. The new 4xe powertrain is available in the Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, and Summit Reserve trims. It uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine and features an all-electric driving range of 25 miles, fuel economy of 57 MPGe, and a total combined driving range of 440 miles. The powertrain also produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe All Grand Cherokee models get a more upscale interior for the 2022 model year.Jeep

With the water and terrain involved in off-roading, an electric motor and plug-in components could be a recipe for disaster, but Jeep took steps to protect sensitive parts of the drivetrain and vehicle. All high-voltage electronics are seats and are waterproof, and Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee 4xe can ford water of up to 24 inches in depth. The battery also comes with its own heating and cooling system to hold it in the ideal temperature range for optimum performance. The powertrain delivers impressive capability, as Jeep says a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe was able to tackle the Rubicon Trail on electric power only.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The 2022 Grand Cherokee gets updated tech and safety features.Jeep

The 4xe's charging port is located on the front fender to allow easier charging in tight spots. LED indicators show the charging status and there's an LED battery monitor inside the vehicle on the instrument panel. Three driving modes allow the driver to select the right vehicle and powertrain behavior for the situation. Hybrid mode combines both the electric motor and gas engine, and balances the two for the best fuel efficiency and performance. Electric mode operates on electric power only until the battery's power is depleted. eSave prioritizes the gas engine to preserve battery power. As with all PHEVs, the Grand Cherokee 4xe functions like a traditional hybrid once the battery's power is mostly depleted.


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Larger tires headline the upgrades.

Jeep

The off-road wars are heating up. This year alone, we've seen the new Ford Bronco, Rivian's R1T electric pickup truck, new off-road models of the Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, and Chevrolet Silverado, and more rugged versions of the Subaru Outback and Forester. Jeep, already deep in the game, doesn't need to do much to bolster its off-road offering, but the brand is doing just that for 2022. The automaker is offering a new Xtreme Recon Package for the Wrangler Willys SUV, which brings more capability and style to the boxy off-roader.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package The package can be ordered for Wrangler Willys models later this year. Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package

Beyond beefy 35-inch tires tires, the Wrangler Willys with Xtreme Recon Package gets a 1.5-inch factory lift, a 4.56:1 axle ratio, 17-inch wheels and swing gate reinforcement. Jeep says those improvements give the Willys best-in-class approach and departure angles, ground clearance, and water fording capability. Approach angle improves to 47.4 degrees, breakover angle improves to 26.7 degrees, and departure angle jumps to 40.4 degrees. The extra ride height also pushes ground clearance to 12.9 inches and the water fording depth to 33.6 inches.

The package's 35-inch tires make the Willys Jeep's third Wrangler model with hardcore rolling stock. It joins the Wrangler Rubicon and Wrangler Rubicon 392 in the 35-inch club, all of which can be equipped with the tires directly from the factory.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package A factory lift helps improve ground clearance and capability.Jeep

The Xtreme Recon Package can be ordered starting in October and will be available for the Jeep Wrangler Willys with 3.6-liter eTorque engine. The package adds $3,995 to the Wrangler Willys' price tag, which brings the total starting price to $40,930, including a $1,495 destination charge.

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