Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently announced it would invest $4.5 billion in existing and new assembly plants in the state of Michigan, and the details presage good things for the company’s Jeep and Ram brands.
But most interestingly is the timing and product lineup announced alongside those plant investments. FCA mentions a next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, which will likely arrive in the first half of 2021, assembled both at its existing Jefferson North Assembly Plant and an all-new manufacturing facility on the site of the Mack Avenue Engine Complex. The company also announced it would build an all-new three-row Jeep at the same Mack facility. Those three-row machines, which will likely share the next-generation Grand Cherokee’s unibody design, should arrive in the first half of 2020 as 2021 models.
Our first thought was the new three-row Jeep SUV mentioned in the release was simply the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer family, but the release later mentions those SUVs by name in its breakdown of investments into the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, which currently produces the Ram 1500 Classic. Warren will almost certainly continue building body-on-frame vehicles, which leads us to wonder if Jeep will soon offer two different three-row fullsize SUV products.
The more comfortable unibody machine would be built to rival the Chevrolet Traverse at the bottom end and the Cadillac XT6 at the top (possibly inspired by the Jeep Yuntu concept). The other product family would be a large, rugged, body-on-frame sport-ute designed to battle the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban (Wagoneer) and the Range Rover (Grand Wagoneer). The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are expected to hit the market in early 2021, likely as 2022 models.
Of note, the plant investment release also makes significant mention of electrified powertrains. The Mack, Jefferson North, and Warren Truck facilities will each be capable of building plug-in versions of their respective products, meaning the Grand Cherokee, Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, and unspecified three-row unibody SUV will each be available as a hybrid. Furthermore, FCA says the new plants will have the flexibility to produce fully electric vehicles in the future.
Finally, FCA mentions that it will continue building the previous-generation Ram 1500 Classic at the Warren plant. Formerly, it was assumed the 1500 Classic would last through the first few months of the 2019 model year before being sunsetted. However, citing market demand, the Ram 1500 Classic’s lifecycle will be extended.
Given all of this news, it seems like it’s a good time to be a Jeep or Ram dealer, with a huge variety of product coming down the pipeline in the next several years. For our part, we’re very excited to see what some of those unknowns might be.