Fiat Chrysler said it plans to reopen a dormant auto factory in Detroit to produce its 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it plans to reopen a dormant Detroit manufacturing plant to build its new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Mack II engine plant, on Detroit's Mack Avenue, would be the first auto assembly plant to open in the city in 27 years. It would produce 2021 Grand Cherokee models, the first of its kind with three-row seating. The Detroit News reported Thursday. An official statement from FCA is expected next week.
The plant has been inactive since 2012.
The project could involve as many as 400 new jobs -- and would cushion last week's announcement that General Motors will close five plants in the United States and Canada, including one in Detroit.
FCA's plans coincide with renegotiations, set for 2019, of a labor contract with the United Auto Workers. They also come at a time domestic automakers are under increased pressure from President Donald Trump to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States.
This week, GM CEO Mary Barra met with members of Congress to discuss reconsideration of the automaker's plans to close the U.S. plants.
Unlike GM, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has run out of capacity to satisfy demand for its popular line of SUVs, including the Grand Cherokee model. With strong demand for its Jeep and Dodge Ram truck models, FCA has moved production from plant to plant as its retools for new models. FCA plants are currently producing vehicles at 92 percent capacity, compared to GM's 72 percent and 81 percent at Ford Motor Co., the Detroit News reported.
FCA's Jefferson North factory in Detroit, the last plant to open in Detroit in 1991, is currently at 130 percent capacity and operating with extra shifts to meet demand for the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango models.