Toledo Jeep Factory Visit

Own a Wrangler? Then this is where it was made. We take a look at the legendary Toledo factory

By Shahzad Sheikh

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

This is a very special place. Its significance is made apparent from the permanent memorial to World War II veterans featuring a restored 1942 Willys Military Jeep. You can read about the history of the Jeep here, but if you own a Jeep Wrangler today, then it was made right here at Jeep’s Toledo Assembly Complex. The only other car made here is the new Jeep Cherokee – which is the production line we looked at whilst visiting there last month.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

Car production for over 100 years

There’s been a production facility here at Toledo since the 1800s when they used to make bicycles. In 1910 John North Willys bought the Toledo plant for Overland Motor Company. Willys was the second largest producer of cars in the US after Ford between 1912 and 1918. They made the Willys Overland and later Whippet here.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

However Willys suffered and production slowed dramatically during the 1920s Depression Era, until the contract to make the Jeep was won and production began in 1941 – although at the time production was shared with Ford and American Bantam as nearly 360,000 units were made by the end of the Second World War.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

Of course after the War Willys focussed on making ‘civilian’ Jeeps and Jeep-based vehicles (including trucks), and the Willys Aero from 1952-1968, whilst of course continuing to make the Jeep for the US Army.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

Changes in ownership

Kaiser Motors bought Willys in 1953, changing the name to Willys Motor Company and again to Kaiser-Jeep Corporation in 1963. It was sold to American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1970; which was then taken over by Renault in 79 and finally bought by Chrysler in 1987, by which time the Jeep CJ had already been replaced by the Wrangler.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

Chrysler now, of course, is part of Fiat-Chrysler and production at Toledo has been ramped up massively of late to meet continuing and increasing demand for this historic brand. Up to 6000 people work two shifts a day over six days a week.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

More Jeeps than ever

In 2009 this plant made 144,000 vehicles, now the sprawling 4m square foot facility churns out an annual number expected to hit half a million by the end of this year. And the 15th millionth car produced here will roll off the assembly lines next year.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

Joining the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited production – the only plant to produce those cars – is the new Jeep Cherokee. Despite co-development with Fiat only the diesel engines come from Italy whilst 75% of the parts for the car are sourced from within 300km of the factory.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

Precision Cherokee production

The plant may have been around a long time but most of the facility we saw being used for Cherokee production was built in 1997 and employs state-of-the-art just-in-time production techniques, including a metrology department where they’re dedicated to ensuring micro-millimetre precise fit and finish for not just the new Cherokee but also the veteran Wrangler.

And along with the plant workers who seem to take genuine pride in working at the world’s only Jeep Wrangler plant, there are the latest manufacturing robots brought in from Japan. At one spot-wielding station an astonishing 18 robots go to work on the Cherokee body at one time.

Jeep Toledo Assembly Plant

But as we leave the plant our thoughts keep coming back to the core Jeep product, the Wrangler, a direct descendant of a car that helped win a World War. And this is where they’ve been brought to life for over 70 years. That makes this place very special indeed.

Hope you enjoyed our Toledo Jeep Factory tour, leave your comments below

One response to “Toledo Jeep Factory Visit”

  1. ali sayed says:

    the jeep my car and in my hart

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