WITH AN electric Jeep Wrangler due to arrive in 2020, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US LLC) has ramped up pre-production with the announcement it has decided to produce the Power Electronics module for the PHEV W (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) at its Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg, Ohio.
This facility is 54 years old, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not up to this task; the Toledo plant has, in recent years, been the beneficiary of huge investment from the parent company (to the tune of around US$92million since 2011) to ensure it remains viable in regards to producing essential parts for the company’s various vehicle brands.
Some of the parts manufactured here include torque converters that do service in the eight-speed rear-wheel drive and nine-speed front-wheel drive transmissions, along with steering columns used in various brands’ products throughout North America and Mexico.
The Power Electronics (PE) module includes two essential powertrain components – an inverter module and an integrated dual-charger module (comprised of the vehicle’s on-board charger and a DC-DC converter).
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As you’d expect for fitment to an off-road focused vehicle such as the Wrangler, to minimise the chance of damage when tackling rugged tracks, the PE module will be housed in a protective structure and tucked up well out of the way between the Wrangler’s prop shaft and exhaust.
The Toledo facility will be responsible for assembling the PE module’s sub-systems, uploading the inverter’s software and then running comprehensive testing on both the electric and coolant systems of the vehicle. Once module construction is complete, it will then be sent to Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly Complex, where the Wrangler PHEV will be built.
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It is an amazing leap for the Toledo facility in terms of what it actually produces, when you think of what would have been built there when it first opened in 1966. It is a positive – and applauded – move by FCA to continue to invest in these ‘older’ locations and keep them at the forefront of not only modern vehicle production but overall efficiency.
Toledo Machining’s Silver Status award in implementing World Class Manufacturing (WCM is focused on reducing waste, upping productivity while ensuring quality and safety aren’t impacted) in June this year proves there’s plenty of new-tech life in it for a few years yet.
As to the Wrangler FHEV and whether it will get to Australia? Even though FCA has committed to having more than 30 vehicle nameplates sporting “electrified solutions” by 2022, we think it will be a while longer than that before you have to worry about finding a charging point in the Simpson Desert for your electric/hybrid 4x4.