Thursday, August 14, 2008

IL Insider: Chrysler's $1.8 Billion Plant Investment Said To Include Jeep Grand Cherokee Hybrid

Inside Line

DETROIT — Chrysler is pouring a hefty $1.8 billion into its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit as it aims to make the Detroit factory a "hallmark facility for flexibility," according to supplier sources contacted by Inside Line. Those sources also say that the 2011-'12 Jeep Grand Cherokee will get a hybrid variant.

Chrysler on Wednesday said it will spend $1.8 billion on new-vehicle programs, including an expansion of Jefferson North. Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda told WJR-AM on Wednesday that the investment includes a "car based" replacement for the current Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Supplier sources told Inside Line that the investment focuses heavily on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in two-row and three-row configurations. The new Grand Cherokee will be powered by the new Phoenix engine, a V6 that is likely to be either a 3.3-liter or a 3.5-liter. The new Grand Cherokee will be engineered with "more space for hybrid components," a source said. There was talk about "Dodge spin-offs" to be built at Jefferson North, but one source said those "talks have quieted down."

In any case, the future Jeep Grand Cherokee will be more fuel-efficient than the current model. The plant today builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Commander.

What this means to you: The Chrysler Group works to add a third hybrid SUV to its lineup, but has yet to produce a hybrid car. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

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