Chrysler Group has announced that the 2007 Dodge Nitro will be built at the Toledo North Assembly Plant (TNAP) alongside the Jeep Liberty/Cherokee. This will be the first non-Jeep product to be built at the Toledo complex, long the home of the Wrangler, in over 10 years.

The Nitro is schduled to come to Europe as part of the new Dodge line slated for launch from mid-2006.

“The employees and management of the Toledo North Assembly Plant have made it one of the most progressive manufacturing facilities in our system,” said Chrysler truck and activity vehicle assembly chief Byron Green.  “By implementing a process whereby employees work together in small teams and take more control over their daily work, this team has positioned itself to become the home of Chrysler Group’s newest model.”

The Toledo Complex is made up of the Toledo North Assembly and Toledo South Assembly, which has been building Jeep brand vehicles since the 1940s.

Part of the total Nitro programme investment of US$600m is being allocated directly to the plant for many upgrades that will make it ready to manage the complexity of building two different models on one production line. The plant is getting several expansions totalling over 160,000 square feet. Other changes in the plant include new equipment such as over 150 new robots, new conveyors, and important new processes that will contribute to the plant’s productivity and quality.

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The improvements at the plant help give it the capability to build pilot vehicles on the assembly line, which reduces waste and speeds time of development. Further improvements will also be made to body, trim and paint operations. Process improvements such as new material handling operations and increased use of pre-assembled components will also contribute to improved productivity.

The 2.10 million square foot Toledo North Assembly Plant occupies 200 acres and has more than 2,500 employees. Ground breaking of the new plant was in autumn 1997. Production of the Liberty/Cherokee launched in April 2001.

An all-new South plant, which will begin building the replacement for the current Wrangler in the summer of 2006, replaces the current assembly site and will be operated by the Chrysler Group and three supplier/partners who will manage unprecedented levels of the manufacturing operation. This “supplier park” frees capital to be invested in new product development.