Jeeps have been produced in Toledo, Ohio since the inception of the original Willys-Overland MB series, and you can bet anything you have that Toledo is extremely proud of that heritage. So when the news of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne being quoted as saying that Jeep Wrangler production would potentially have to move from Toledo to a new location at the Paris Motor Show came to light, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins and Ohio Governor John Kasich held a weekend conference call with Marchionne in order to clarify FCA’s position on Toledo and Jeep production. Not many details of the calls have been explained, except Toledo’s unwillingness to let any Jeep production leave.
Currently the Toledo complex employs about 5,100 people and produces the Wrangler and the Cherokee. According to the statement from Kasich and Collins, the next step is face-to-face meetings with FCA officials. All sides are remaining tight-lipped about details, but seeing city and state officials going to bat for the Toledo workforce shows that any attempt to move Jeep production out of Ohio is going to be met with some serious resistance.
The anger isn’t just from the city or the state. UAW Local 12, the union for the Toledo complex, has been pretty vocal about the change as well. “There’s just a feeling of betrayal. They’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do [by Chrysler] and this is the thanks they get,” said Bruce Baumhower, President of UAW Local 12. “Toledo is the birthplace of Jeep. They just feel that the Wrangler is our vehicle and that they’ve earned the right to build that vehicle no matter what it’s made of.”