Customized Jeeps From the Factory?
Customized Jeeps direct from the factory? That could be a possibility.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is building a $23 million vehicle customization facility with Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator production nearby at their Toledo Assembly Complex.
According to a story in the Toledo Blade, Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz announced a pending purchase agreement with FCA, saying he will present legislation to the city council to authorize the sale and redevelopment of the former Textileather and MedCorp properties. They want to sell the property to FCA for $1 as an incentive for FCA’s proposed investment. FCA then plans to build a 250,000-square-foot facility to be operated by a supplier, employing more than 300 people.
“This is major economic development win for Toledo,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. In exchange for the reduced sale price, the city intends to authorize tax increment financing for the property prior to the sale. That will allow any increase in property tax revenue from the redevelopment to fund public improvements. “The city will use the economic development tool to recoup its $6.8 million investment into the site over a period of time.” FCA will also provide the city with a buy-back option, allowing the city to repurchase the property for $1 should the automaker not develop the property within four years.
“Jeep has a special connection and history with Toledo. We appreciate the city council’s consideration of this proposal and would like to thank the city and the mayor’s office for all of their efforts,” said Kevin E. Frazier, FCA spokesman.
Bruce Baumhower, president of UAW Local 12, which represents about 6,000 employees at the assembly complex, said, “The market for Jeep customizations such as bigger tires, bigger roll bars, different lights, customized running boards, and logos or customized paint jobs is growing rapidly, and soon that work can happen just across the street.”
Textileather Corp. manufactured vinyl fabric for the auto industry for decades until the company closed its doors in 2009. The adjacent property utilized by MedCorp, an ambulance service provider, closed in 2013, leaving two buildings available for redevelopment. Assembly Complex had limited space to grow, which became an issue when FCA began exploring expansion or relocation of its Jeep Wrangler production to meet growing global demand. In 2014, the city started acquiring property for an incentive to persuade FCA to continue building Jeeps in Toledo.
Ultimately, the city was able to put together a 40-acre site ready for development. Toledo city councilman Rob Ludeman, who supported the city’s move to acquire the parcels six years ago, said, “It’s going to be a big boost to the economy as far as the number of jobs. It also keeps the brand more unified in Toledo since they’re going to customize Jeeps for people all over the country.”