TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Fiat Chrysler Automotive gave WTOL 11 an all-access look at its Toledo machining plant. An important component for the hybrid Jeep Wrangler is set to be manufactured there beginning in 2020.
"It's a good start for us to get in the electrification business because really, if you think about it, with all the regulations and such, hybrids could be a big future volumes for Chrysler Corporation, for FCA, and we're gonna be right at the ground level of that," plant manager Tony Ferrante said.
"This new module means everything to this plant here," said Mike Bradford, the people development joint lead. "I mean our torque converters and our steering columns are kind of the old product here. This new product, this super module, it's all the electronics, that's where everything's going to now. It's what we need in this plant. Keep the longevity of our plant."
The feeling of excitement wasn't always the case among employees. In fact, it was quite the opposite up until a few years ago.
"I remember years ago you couldn't even look down our plant on the west end," said Brittany Hampton-Bey, a factory employee. "It was so foggy, it was dark, so it's been major improvement."
The company said it expects to have all the assembly equipment up and running by March of 2019, followed by pilot programs and testing. It won't create any new jobs at the plant, but FCA stressed employee longevity as one of the key effects.
"To actually have something come in that is not only new work but new technology, it actually is important to me, and I think it's important to everybody here because this leads us in a direction that the auto industry is going," said Timothy Walbolt, president of the UAW Local 1435.
"It shows advancement for our plant," Hampton-Bey said. "We have not had new work in here in a little while, so it's awesome."
"It's a new technology, right, and we want to grab a hold of that because that's the way the world is kind of turning to new technology," said Ryan Pinkelman, a team leader and workplace organization specialist. "So I think that's great and it's something new for us to learn."