Jeep Builds Last JK WranglerLast Updated February 5, 2020 | Alison Smith
Jeep fans, the time has come to say goodbye to the popular JK Wrangler. After a nearly 12-year reign as the nation’s top off-roading SUV, the last JK Wrangler rolled off the assembly line on April 27. Factory workers have worked diligently to produce the JK Wrangler over the past decade at the FCA Plant in Toledo, Ohio, which will now begin retooling for the upcoming Wrangler pickup. In a video on FCA’s website, Chuck Padden, Assembly Complex Manager for the plant, bid a sweet farewell to the JK Wrangler, stating:
“It’s the heart and soul of Jeep … it’s the lifeblood of Toledo. It’s the heritage going back generations and generations, and this is just the next step. As you walk around here, you see some people are a little teary-eyed about the end of the JK, but you see the excitement. They are really excited about the JT that’s coming, the Jeep truck. Customers have been waiting for this Jeep truck for a long time. So, the history that’s being made today with the last of the JKs, it’s just going to continue on with the new JT that’ll come out next year.”
The End of An Era
Despite the sadness that comes with the ending of the JK Wrangler era, the anticipation for the Jeep truck lifts the people of Toledo’s spirits. Padden commented on the dynamics between the people of Toledo and Jeep, mentioning the two have a symbiotic relationship and rely on each other for success. Without the support of the city and the people of Toledo, the plant wouldn’t be successful. But Toledo needs Jeep just as much as it needs them, Padden emphasized.
Since 2006, Jeep has produced over 2 million JK Wranglers. That’s a lot of Jeeps in a 12-year span! Jeep chose a Rubicon Unlimited in white to serve as the last JK Wrangler, which signifies the importance that the four-door model has had on the brand. When the Unlimited model first came out, many Jeep purists and enthusiasts weren’t too keen on the idea. They thought a Jeep should only have two doors and a short wheelbase. However, now the four-door Wranglers outsell the two-door version, as they are more practical and comfortable for families.
Jeep’s Bright Future
The final JK Wrangler may represent the end of a generation, but there are brighter things on the horizon. Jeep created a worthy successor for the JK with the fourth-generation JL Wrangler, which has surpassed sales expectations. “We’re really not losing the Wrangler, we’re getting a better model,” said Mark Epley, UAW Local 12 Jeep Unit Chairman. Even though the JL Wrangler has some pretty big shoes to fill, it’s doing a pretty great job so far. According to Toledo’s The Blade, overall Jeep sales increased 45 percent in March, with a record 27,829 Wranglers sold. For April, the numbers increased even more, topping the record with Jeep selling 29,776 Wranglers for the month. Total Wrangler sales figures are up 42% year-to-date for a total of 85,280 vehicles sold, split relatively evenly between the outgoing JK and the new JL.
But for many in Toledo, Jeep isn’t just a company — it’s a passion. As Epley pointed out, “These people here live and breathe Jeep.”
Source & Image Credit: FCA
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