It looks like Fiat's ownership of Chrysler is already starting to pay off. According to a recent interview with The Toledo Blade, Jeep president Michael Manley said that he was worried that demand for the Wrangler might soon outpace the capability of Jeep’s Toledo, Ohio factory where the model is built.
According to The Toledo Blade, Jeep is a key component in Fiat’s plans to gain a foothold in international markets. The Wrangler is particularly important because it’s seen by many as the successor to the original Jeep that helped liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. “The Wrangler just continues to grow and grow in international markets,“ said Manley.
When Fiat took over Chrysler two years ago, one of the first things it did was to refranchise its European dealers, a process it has just now finished. “As [refranchising] is now finished and [dealers] get back to gaining some momentum, clearly the Wrangler demand is going to grow in Europe,” said Manley. There’s only one slight problem: the Toledo factory where the Wrangler is built is already approaching its 150,000 vehicle capacity. Sales in the United States alone are up 13 percent this year, and the Toledo factory has already churned out 71,000 two and four door Wranglers in the first five months of the year.
In theory, sales of the Wrangler should only go up from here. Next year the Wrangler is expected to ditch its antiquated 3.8-liter 202-hp V-6 and four-speed automatic transmission in favor of the new Pentastar V-6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. Manley also hinted that an oil burner would appear under the Wrangler’s hood within the next two to four years because new emissions regulations aligning U.S. and European standards more closely, make “a strong business case” for its appearance on our shores.
Source: Toledo Blade