The Toledo Blade is reporting that the new Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio is currently testing production on the next-generation Jeep Cherokee. Here's a snippet:
Two of the first new Toledo-made Jeeps have been shipped to DaimlerChrysler AG's Michigan proving grounds from $600 million plant off Stickney Avenue, where 375 employees continue testing factory operations and making a prototype each day.
Two years after ground was broken for Toledo Jeep North, DaimlerChrysler is finishing construction and is on the way to making sellable models of the long-lived Cherokee's eventual replacement next spring.
Code-named KJ, the still-secret Jeep will join Toledo-made Cherokees and Wranglers and Detroit-made Grand Cherokees on dealership lots next summer.
Now made up of 160 production operators, 140 skilled tradesmen, and 75 managers, Toledo Jeep North's personnel soon will produce five prototypes for the compact sport-utility vehicle daily.
The new factory is expected to build at least 187,000 KJs annually when it reaches full production.
"That's the backbone of our operation out there," said Edward Mercer, Toledo Jeep's plant manager. "We're continuing to find things that we can do better."
So far, Mr. Mercer said, the Toledo Jeep North's body shop - the plant's first area to open - has made more than 200 KJ prototype bodies since April.
Be sure to check out the entire article, as it contains a picture of the new plant and more information about the upcoming new Jeep.