Reports: Fiat Chrysler To Open Factory To Build SUVs In Detroit

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to open a new assembly plant in Detroit to build SUVs, according to published reports.

Rumors have abounded for weeks about FCA's plans in the city, but company officials have declined comment.

The Detroit News, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday that the company plans to revive a plant on Mack Avenue that has been shut down since 2012. The new assembly plant would make the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee beginning in the 2021 model year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Thursday that Fiat Chrysler would open a new factory in Detroit.

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The news comes as Fiat Chrysler's sales have risen in recent months on the strength of its Jeep and Ram brands, showing that its early bet to shift production away from passenger cars to SUVs and trucks is paying off. 

The Italian-American automaker's expansion plans stand in contrast to General Motors, which is poised to close several factories, including its assembly plants in Detroit and northeast Ohio.

An official announcement on the new Fiat Chrysler plant could come before the end of the year.

Jeff Schuster, president and forecaster for LMC Automotive, said Fiat Chrysler's Mack Avenue facility is rigged for assembly line work.

“They would have to add a paint shop, body shop and other areas,” he said. “The talk is hundreds of employees, not thousands."

Schuster said Fiat Chrysler is currently "running extremely lean" on manufacturing capacity.

"You can only squeeze so much out of existing factories," he said.

At issue is what can be done to retrofit the plant in a cost-effective way, said Schuster, whose company provides market forecasting for auto manufacturers, suppliers and the financial community.

Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Eric D. Lawrence on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence. Phoebe Wall Howard contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Reports: Fiat Chrysler to open factory to build SUVs in Detroit

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