Auburn HIlls, MI - Friday, June 30, 2006 marked the last day of production at Chrysler's Toledo Parkway Assembly Plant. After 64 years of manufacturing Jeep products at the Parkway facility, the Chrysler Group will relocate production of the Jeep® Wrangler to the new, $2.1 billion state-of-the-art Toledo Supplier Park and add a new, four-door Unlimited version of the Wrangler to Toledo's manufacturing mix.
The final TJ rolls off the line. Approximately 970,000 were built between 1996 and 2006. This one, a dual-top, full-door, Sport model, will remain in the DaimlerChrysler collection.
The Toledo Supplier Park, part of an unprecedented expansion by DaimlerChrysler in this urban, Midwest operation -- will become the new home of the legendary Jeep Wrangler. The plant, adjacent to DaimlerChrysler's Toledo North Assembly Plant, is operated by the Chrysler Group and three supplier partners: Magna International's Magna Steyr, Kuka Group and Hyundai Mobis-owned Ohio Module Manufacturing Corp. (OMMC). The innovative supplier park is the first North American operation to have three major vehicle-building operations (body shop, paint shop and chassis assembly) owned or operated by suppliers. The Jeep Wrangler was formerly built at the Toledo Assembly Plant comprised of the Parkway and Stickney locations.
"The closing of Toledo Parkway clearly marks the end of an important era in our history,” said Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President - Manufacturing, Chrysler Group. “But it also opens the door for us to modernize our facilities while ensuring that our Toledo employees have a stronger future. Today, you see the oldest auto plant in the U.S. producing its last vehicle. Tomorrow, in its place will stand one of the most innovative manufacturing complexes in automotive history.”
The last TJ rolls off the line in Toledo, Friday, June 30th, 2006 at 12:40pm to cheers and tears.
Toledo's modern, four-vehicle manufacturing portfolio -- with the capability to add even more models -- stands in stark contrast to the one-product town that characterized Toledo less than a decade ago. By summer 2006, the two plants will be building Jeep Wrangler (two-door), Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (four-door), Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro. "
"Keeping companies like Chrysler Group in Toledo and providing an opportunity to grow and expand its operations is a major step toward stimulating growth in the Toledo area," said Carty Finkbeiner, Toledo Mayor. "While the Parkway facility has been a part of the Toledo landscape many years, this new plant structure is clearly the future of manufacturing and we're proud to be at the center of it. The Jeep Wrangler is a part of our history and we love that it's built here in Toledo."
The Supplier Park brings enhanced manufacturing technology to Toledo, Ohio, and gives the plant the flexibility to build multiple vehicles on the same production line.
At the Supplier Park, paint operations will be coordinated by Magna Steyer, Kuka Group will operate the body shop, while Ohio Module Manufacturing Corp. will assemble the chassis. Chrysler Group has the responsibility for the final trim and assembly operations at the plant. All four facilities were completed earlier this year and have been working together to produce pilot vehicles since May.
After an initial investment of $1.2 billion to build the first of the two modern Toledo Plants -- Toledo North Assembly Plant -- DaimlerChrysler last year announced that it would invest an additional $600 million at Toledo North, giving the plant the flexibility to add Dodge Nitro assembly to the line that has been producing the Jeep Liberty since 2001. That investment also led to a third manufacturing shift, added more than 160,000 square feet, new equipment, new conveyors, as well as important new processes that will contribute to the plant's productivity and quality.
The 2.1 million square-foot Toledo North Assembly Plant occupies 200 acres and has more than 2,700 employees working two shifts, with the third shift of approximately 750 employees to begin in the third quarter. Groundbreaking of Toledo North began in fall 1997.
A third DaimlerChrysler plant is located in nearby Perrysburg, Ohio. The Toledo Machining Plant opened in 1967 and produces steering columns and torque converters.
New Plants Ensure Future of Carmaker in Toledo
The Toledo Parkway facility has served as a local manufacturing landmark and has been a manufacturing site of the Jeep brand since 1942. Jeep Parkway is North America’s oldest manufacturing facility -- originally opening in 1910 -- and the original Jeep assembly plant. The facility -- a familiar Toledo sight with its two brick smokestacks bearing the name "Overland" -- traces its history back to the Pope Motor Car Co., before it was purchased by John North Willys and combined with the Overland Automotive Division to form the Willys-Overland Motor Company in 1912. Parkway began producing Jeep military vehicles in the early 1940s before switching over to the Civilian Jeep (CJ) in 1945. It was renamed the Toledo Assembly Plant after Chrysler purchased American Motors in 1987.
The plant actually consists of two interconnected units, the Stickney Plant and the Parkway Annex. In recent years, basic assembly and painting of the Jeep Wrangler has been done in the Parkway facility. The less-than-ideal setup at the old operation included operations spread through a warren of buildings and required that vehicles and components be moved through multiple building levels. Final assembly of vehicles took place at Stickney, but facility constraints required that bodies first be painted at Parkway and then moved through tunnels and across bridges to reach the assembly line.
About a third of the Jeep Parkway annex was demolished in 2002. The date of the final Parkway demolition will be determined at a later date.
The Stickney Plant was built in 1942 by Autolite and sold to Kaiser-Jeep in 1964. It was used as a machining and engine plant until 1981 when it was converted for vehicle production. It began producing the Jeep Grand Wagoneer that year through 1991 when final assembly of the Jeep Wrangler moved there.
Commitment to the Community
DaimlerChrysler has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to invest in existing facilities and provide good-paying jobs in urban environments. By renovating many of its existing facilities, DaimlerChrysler was a leading corporate investor in urban America during the 1990s. This decade, the company is continuing the trend in cities such as Toledo, St. Louis, Detroit and Warren, Mich.
In total, DaimlerChrysler has a significant impact on the Toledo and the State of Ohio, with 7,941 employees statewide generating $465 million in annual wages and providing more than $26 million in taxable income to the state.
Chrysler Group, a good neighbor good citizen, sponsors various community events through its philanthropic arm, the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund, including the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival, Toledo Urban League, City's Youth Entrepreneur Program, Toledo Opera, the Toledo Museum of Art, Valentine Theatre and the Diamante Awards.