Fiat Chrysler opens new Jeep plant in Brazil

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Tuesday officially opened its new Jeep production facility in Brazil, as part of the SUV brand’s trek to become a global player.

Company executives including CEO Sergio Marchionne and chairman John Elkann were joined by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Pernambuco Gov. Paulo Câmara for the opening of the facility in Goiana, located in the state of Pernambuco in northeast Brazil.

Fiat Chrysler is touting the Pernambuco facility as its most-advanced, first “truly global plant,” planned and executed from the ground up by an intercultural team.

“In my decades of international experience, the revolution here in Pernambuco is the most profound I have ever seen,” Marchionne said in a release. “It began five years ago when we had the vision of creating one of the most competitive plants in the world in the middle of a stretch of sugar cane fields. Then step by step, the people here made it a reality. ”

The new facility in Goiana cost 7 billion Brazilian reals ($2.4 billion based on Tuesday’s exchange rate) to produce, including 3 billion reals ($1 billion) for the Jeep assembly plant, 2 billion reals ($681 million) for the supplier park and another 2 billion reals ($681 million) for product development and other investments.

Fiat Chrysler reports the 5.7-million-square-foot complex is expected to employ more than 9,000 people by year-end, including 3,300 at the Jeep plant, 4,900 employed by suppliers and about 850 in service activities.

The on-site supplier park covers 2.9 million square feet and houses 16 suppliers that produce 17 component product lines at 12 different factories. The Jeep plant is 2.8 million square feet and has installed production capacity of 250,000 vehicles per year.

The Pernambuco facility is strategic to the Jeep brand’s international development and further strengthens FCA’s presence in Brazil. In 2014, FCA confirmed its position as market leader, a position it has held for a total of 13 years.

“The launch of Jeep locally in Brazil is very important for us,” Jeep President and CEO Mike Manley told The Detroit News in January.

The plant can produce up to three different models simultaneously and is currently producing the Jeep Renegade for export to markets across Latin America. Two additional models are expected to follow in 2016, according to Manley.

Production of the subcompact Renegade in Italy started late 2014 for Europe and earlier this year for the U.S.

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