Chrysler readying Toledo plant for new Fiat-based Jeep

DETROIT Thu Aug 9, 2012 4:30am IST

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DETROIT Aug 8 (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC, the smallest U.S. automaker, will idle one of its Ohio plants this month to prepare for the next generation of Jeep sport-utility vehicles.

The automaker, which is majority-owned by Fiat SpA, will stop building its Jeep Liberty SUV on Aug. 16, plant manager Zach Leroux told reporters on Wednesday.

Chrysler will then revamp its Toledo North factory to build a new SUV on a joint platform developed by Chrysler and Fiat.

In November, Chrysler announced it will invest $1.7 billion, add a second shift, and hire more than 1,100 people in Toledo to build the new SUV.

The plant has been on a single-shift schedule for three years, Leroux said.

The Jeep SUV will be built on a broader platform based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a car built by Fiat that will also underpin Chrysler's forthcoming car and sedan lineup.

This joint platform is a key aspect of Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's plan to fuse Fiat and Chrysler operations to lower costs and expand the companies' reach around the world.

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