Yahoo News is reporting that DaimlerChrysler will be producing a full-size Jeep, code-named "SJ", beginning in 2004:
DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc. sweetened the pot for its unionized workers on Tuesday by announcing a $400 million investment at its Pillette Road truck plant near Windsor, Ontario, that the Globe and Mail newspaper reported will clear the way for building a large new sport utility vehicle.
Sources told the Globe that the new SUV, code-named the SJ, is scheduled for production in 2004, and is designed to compete with the Ford Motor Co. Excursion and the General Motors Corp. Suburban.
When the plant reaches full production, it is expected to produce 50,000 SJ models for the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler AG said the paper.
It's assumed that the workers at the plant -- where the Canadian Auto Workers union recently signed a lucrative three-year contract -- will continue to manufacture the full-sized commercial vans that in recent years have been losing popularity.
SUVs are a highly profitable niche market for automakers, with profits per vehicle estimated at $5,000 to $15,000.
The Pillette Road investment is part of a $50-billion investment in plants the automaker announced at the Frankfurt Auto Show last month.
The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, also has a story about the assembly plant:
A $600-million investment by DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc. at its Pillette Road plant clears the way for workers to begin building a new, full-sized sport utility vehicle code-named the SJ, industry sources say.
The vehicle is scheduled for production in 2004, the sources said, and it will be a hulking SUV designed to compete with behemoths from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. Those vehicles are named Excursion and Suburban, respectively.
The Windsor, Ont., plant, which now employs about 2,000 workers, is expected to crank out 50,000 SJ models for the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler AG once full production is reached.
"The biggest thing they've got is the [Dodge] Durango," said one industry source familiar with DaimlerChrysler's plans, but it competes with smaller SUVs, not the Ford and GM giants.
"It has to be able to cross the Rubicon," one industry source said, describing the size of the Jeep SJ. "There's a Rubicon River in California."