Car makers in the USA are running scared of Donald Trump, pulling a lot of production out of Mexico back into the United States. Oddly, this may be really good news for Australian buyers.
The latest announcement is from Jeep’s parent company FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) which is going to expand its assembly plants in the USA and, move some work to them from its current Mexican factory.
FCA says it will spend one billion USD in new investments that will create 2000 new jobs in the US of A. The investment includes retooling and modernisation at the Warren, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, plants. FCA is keen to point out that it has committed investments of more than $9.6 billion in its U.S. manufacturing facilities and created 25,000 jobs to date since 2009.
Now comes the fascinating news: following its announcement on plant plans FCA says it will revive the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer station wagon models. And – this one is really interesting – a Jeep pickup truck based on the rough ‘n’ tough Wrangler.
Given that a pickup, the Toyota HiLux, was the biggest selling vehicle outright in Australia in 2016 there’s little doubt a Jeep Wrangler pickup would be welcomed here.
There are no official photos of the under-development Jeep pickup at this stage as the company is keeping it under wraps. You may be able to find some secret shots and photoshopped impressions on the internet.
There’s plenty of potentially good news for Australians in what’s happening – though bad stuff is also possible. The often insular Americans are notorious for not building vehicles with their steering wheels on the correct side for us and have yet to say whether the new Jeep Wagoneers and Wrangler pickups will have RHD versions.
FCA says the investment in Warren, Michigan will enable that plant to produce the Dodge Ram truck, which is currently built in Mexico. These are built only with the steering wheel on the left. A couple of Australian companies are carrying out well-engineered conversions to right-hand drive so Aussies looking for heavy-duty light truck will hopefully have a Ram to suit them no matter which way the US manufacture pans out.
Commenting on the announcement from the USA, Fiat Chrysler Australia says, “We are excited to confirm Jeep’s commitment to expand its range with the Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer and a Jeep pickup. While its early days we are in the process of creating a business case to expand the Jeep lineup in Australia to bring these great new products to Australian consumers.”