TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins and several members of his staff traveled to Auburn Hills, Michigan Thursday to meet with a group of Chrysler executives, including CEO Sergio Marchionne.
The meeting comes as a result of Marchionne's comments last week at the Paris Auto Show that if the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is built on an aluminum frame, production would need to move out of Toledo.
Collins says he spoke to Marchionne during a conference call on Sunday which also included Ohio Governor John Kasich. Collins says Kasich also sent several representatives to Thursday's meeting, but was not himself present.
Collins says the group was briefed by Chrysler on preliminary plans for the next generation of the Jeep Wrangler, set to debut in 2018.
"No decision has been made as to where the future Wrangler will be made," said Collins.
Collins says Marchionne and the Chrysler team assured him that if Wrangler production is moved out of Toledo another product or products will be made in the glass city.
"Mr. Marchionne and his staff consider the men and women working at the Toledo Assembly Plant to be the finest team in automobile manufacturing either domestically or internationally," said Collins.
Collins says Chrysler has committed to maintaining staffing levels in Toledo even if Jeep Wrangler production is moved.
Collins says he plans to meet with federal, state and local elected officials to discuss the future of Wrangler production. Collins says economic development experts and members of the private sector will be included in that meeting.
"Toledo and northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan will not suffer an economic setback as a result of future decisions to be made by Fait Chrysler," Collins said.
The city released the following statement after Mayor D. Michael Collins and members of his administration met with Chrysler executives Thursday:
This afternoon, Mayor D. Michael Collins and members of his management team, Chief of Staff Bob Reinbolt, Senior Attorney Eileen Granata and Director of Development Matt Sapara accompanied by Governor Kasich's Chief of Staff, Beth Hansen and JobsOhio's President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor, met with Fiat Chrysler executives in Auburn Hills regarding the Company's plans to build the next generation of the Wrangler. The purpose of the meeting was to gain clarity relative to Mr. Marchionne's comments about the Wrangler facility. The business case regarding the next generation Wrangler was discussed at great length. There will be a follow up meeting set up within the next few weeks to continue this dialogue. Those discussions will embrace a full range of opportunities.
Although no decisions have been reached, Fiat Chrysler did commit to maintaining the current employment level if it is ultimately decided that the next generation Wrangler will be built at another location. This commitment was made in the context of adding alternative potential product at the location. Mr. Marchionne characterized the workforce in Toledo as one of the finest in the automotive industry and there are no plans to reduce this highly skilled workforce.
The City is focused on retaining the Wrangler in Toledo. Just as significantly, the City is also committed to working with Fiat Chrysler to protect and enhance current employment levels in the community.