Last year, the Jeep Wrangler received a more powerful and fuel-efficient V6 engine, and it is likely no coincidence that the iconic utility vehicle ended up being produced in higher numbers than ever before. Now Jeep has announced that it will be hiring 200 more workers at the Wrangler’s Toledo, Ohio, plant to keep up with that record demand.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Jeep will add 130 workers starting on April 1 to provide “tag relief” to current employees during the two 10-hour shifts at the Wrangler’s Toledo Supplier Park assembly line. Meanwhile, the addition of a third shift at the facility’s paint shop will require hiring about 70 additional workers. The Toledo Supplier Park manufactured more than 200,000 Wranglers last year and demand remains strong, with the vehicle achieving its best-ever February sales last month, an 8 percent increase compared to the same month last year.
“The Wrangler’s new 3.6-liter Pentastar engine not only makes the vehicle faster and more capable than before, but it also saves more cash at the pump, which is a very tempting proposition for U.S. buyers,” said Brian Duval, general manager of Concord, New Hampshire Jeep dealership Bob Mariano Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. “Another big factor in the increased demand is the Wrangler’s growing popularity overseas, but in either case, the rapid sales are resulting in more jobs for Americans.”
Jeep hopes that its sales will get an additional boost after it begins production of the all-new Cherokee at its Toledo plant this May. A revival of the popular nameplate that was discontinued after 2001, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee will debut at the New York International Auto Show later this month. Though it was designed as a replacement for the Jeep Liberty compact SUV, the new Cherokee will feature a sleeker, more crossover-like shape.
Recently released photos of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee reveal softer design lines and a unique front fascia, with slanted slots for the LED running lights and turn signals, as well as separate pods for the headlamps positioned below. While Jeep’s recognizable seven-slot grille is still present, it is has been shaped to match the Cherokee’s more contoured style. Aesthetics aside, buyers can expect the new model to be more capable and fuel efficient than the outgoing Liberty, thanks to a 3.2-liter version of Jeep’s Pentastar engine and a ZF nine-speed automatic transmission.
“The new Jeep Cherokee should attract a lot of new buyers to the brand with its modern, streamlined design and impressive gas mileage, but at the same time, it will still live up to the Cherokee name when it comes to capability,” Duval noted. “The new Pentastar engines are allowing the Jeep lineup to meet demands for fuel economy while maintaining the trail-rated genetics of past models, and that is a recipe for solid sales for years to come.”