Chrysler Group Begins Production of Jeep® Commander in Detroit
New Jeep model expands the Jeep lineup to four SUVs
Jefferson North Assembly Plant becomes Company’s next multi-product plant
Retooling was done at previous product changeover
Process changes taking root throughout system
Auburn Hills, Mich., Jul 28, 2005 –
The Chrysler Group is today marking the manufacturing launch of the all-new 2006 Jeep® Commander at the Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant (JNAP), which has been the home of the Jeep Grand Cherokee since 1992. Commander is the fourth model in the current Jeep brand line up, along with the Toledo-built Wrangler and Liberty.
Commander production marks the first time that JNAP has had the capability to produce more than one model at a time. Chrysler Group is giving each of its assembly plants the ability to produce multiple models on one production line, giving the Company the agility needed to respond quickly to market demand. Additionally, the plant will begin producing the SRT8 version of the Grand Cherokee in November.
“This manufacturing flexibility is critical to the future success of the Chrysler Group,” said Simon Boag, Vice President – Assembly and Stamping, Chrysler Group. “As we transform our operations, we are giving the Company the freedom to schedule any build order necessary.”
In addition to other plants, the Company previously announced the next two plants that will become fully flexible: Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant, where Dodge Caliber production will begin in the first quarter of 2006, and Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant, which produces the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus. Next year both plants will have the ability to produce multiple models in batch sizes as small as one unit.
Such flexibility is critical to accommodate Chrysler Group’s on-going Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brand product offensive, including a record breaking year of new product introductions planned for 2006.
With foresight and strategic planning, the plant changeover to Commander production was primarily accomplished during the plant’s Jeep Grand Cherokee changeover in early 2004, eliminating the need for two retooling periods. That move not only avoided the costs associated with a second retooling, it also gave the plant the ability to start piloting the Commander a full eight months before customer production in a rolling launch that did not require any additional down week or weeks.
The company invested $241 million into JNAP in preparation for the production of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Part of that investment – $104 million – was for Commander body, paint and assembly tooling.
To accommodate the new model, many Commander-specific modifications were made to the plant. For example, the Commander is two inches longer than the Grand Cherokee, so changes had to be made along the assembly line from body-in-white to final assembly. And as the first Jeep with three rows of seats, additional ergonomic arms had to be added to the assembly line to assist operators with seat installation. The Commander’s unique Command View skylights over the second row of seats required additional robots to insert overhead glass. About $25 million was invested into robotics for Commander’s new body style.