According to a report published by WardsAuto/AutomotiveCompass that was cited by the Detroit Free Press, U.S. production of the next-generation crossovers will begin in January 2016. The next generation of the Chrysler 200 sedan, which will go on sale next year, will also be made in Sterling Heights, a Detroit suburb.
Sam Fiorani, senior automotive market analyst for AutomotiveCompass, said all three vehicles will be built on a common platform that Chrysler shares with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. He added that plans were revealed to AutomotiveCompass by several suppliers, and that Chrysler will discontinue production of the Dodge Avenger, currently built at Sterling Heights.
The Dodge Journey is a compact crossover that struggles to compete with models such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4. Last year, sales of the Journey were just under 80,000 units. In Europe, Fiat sells the Freemont, a rebadged version of the Dodge Journey.
Inaugurated in 1953, the Sterling Heights plant employs about 2,500 hourly employees on two shifts. In 2010 and 2011 Chrysler announced a more than $1-billion investment to build paint and body shops at the site. Construction is expected to finish this year.
Today, Chrysler employs about 2,500 hourly employees on two shifts at the plant. Chrysler declined to comment on the AutomotiveCompass report.
By Dan Mihalascu