Automaker Fiat Chrysler (FCA) announced today that its Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant will receive $1.48 billion in improvements, and production there will shift from the Chrysler 200 to the Ram 1500 beginning in December.
FCA has said it may reimagine the Ram 1500 pickup as a large SUV to meet increased consumer demand for that type of vehicle.
Currently, the Warren (Mich.) Truck Assembly Plant builds the Ram. FCA said plans for that facility will be announced later. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that the company was looking at Warren as an "alternative site" to produce Jeep vehicles, "especially in view of our commitment to the development of the Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer going forward."
The Sterling Heights plant, which employs 1,846, began its life in 1953 as a jet engine plant. Volkswagen converted the site to an auto plant in 1980 and sold it to Chrysler in 1983. The plant added a second shift in February 2011, but returned to a one-shift operation in July of this year as sales of the Chrysler 200 declined.
No word yet on whether a second shift will return to the Sterling Heights plant, or whether the investment will create any jobs.
The Warren plant, which employs 4,463, began manufacturing trucks in 1938.
Earlier this month, FCA announced plans to invest $1 billion in its Toledo, Ohio, and Belvidere, Ill., assembly plants with growth in demand for Jeep models.