Auburn Hills-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has committed to building the anticipated Detroit Jeep plant with the lowest volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions rate in the U.S. The plant, to be located on the east side of Detroit, will create two electrified Jeep vehicles and bring 4,950 new jobs to the city.
The company announced in February it would invest $1.6 billion to convert the two plants that comprise the Mack Avenue Engine Complex into a new assembly site for an all-new, three-row, full-size Jeep SUV and the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, along with their electrified models. The first vehicles are expected to roll out by the end of 2020. When complete, the facility will be the first new assembly plant built in the city in nearly 30 years.
“Following numerous public and private discussions with residents, especially those nearest the facility, we’re proud to share our environmental plans and the future of FCA manufacturing in Detroit,” says Mark Stewart, COO for FCA – North America. “We’re honored the residents of the city support us and know that every step of the way, we need to prove that we follow through on our commitments and will be good neighbors long into our collective future.”
Environmental efforts support six priority areas: enhance air quality, improve landscape aesthetics, reduce and manage stormwater impact, support pollinators and wildlife habitats, provide educational opportunities, and support pride in the community.
The company plans to construct and install a stormwater park to control runoff. The park will be open to the neighborhood and include a walking path surrounded by native vegetation, pollinator gardens, and an educational pavilion. It will also install vegetative buffers and bioswales to further minimize stormwater runoff. Bioswales are vegetated areas that naturally filter and slow stormwater runoff to help reduce the impact stormwater can have on a municipal system.
Another plan includes transforming vacant lots with into green spaces with trees, shrubs, and gardens by working with community organizations such as the Chandler Park Neighborhood Association and the Canfield Alliance Network. The company will also help revive the urban tree canopy by planting more than 1,000 trees onsite and within the immediate neighborhood.
FCA will partner with the Wildlife Habitat Council to create and support urban biodiversity, pollinator habitats, and on-campus conservation projects. It will also host ongoing programs with local schools to build awareness and educate students on the benefits of environmental stewardship.
Finally, it will work with the Detroit Department of Transportation to install solar-powered bus stop shelters with mobile device charging stations and host informative events on the benefits of rain barrel capture of stormwater and provide rain barrels to interested residents.
“Our commitment to this city goes well beyond our facility,” says Stewart. “Our future lies in the hearts and minds of the young people who grow and thrive in Detroit. Supporting their growth is especially important to me, which is why we will also be partnering with other local organizations to further enhance the neighborhood.”
Once running, the new assembly plant will also operate using hydrogen fuel cells to power the material handling fleet; offer more than 30 electric vehicle charging stations; have industry-leading water processing and recycling systems; benchmark energy efficiency practices, including planned LEED Certification of the paint shop; install 6,000 LED lamps inside and outside the facility; implement a zero waste-to-landfill initiative; and use a natural-gas-powered Detroit-based semitruck fleet to haul parts.
FCA finalized a Community Benefits Agreement early this year following weeks of public meetings with residents in the neighborhoods around the Mack plant. The agreement commits FCA and city of Detroit to provide more than $35 million in support for neighborhood improvements, housing, workforce development, education and training programs, and environmental initiatives, including a $1.8 million commitment to help homeowners in the city’s eastside invest in and repair their homes.
Along with the expanded Mack plant, the company announced plans to invest in the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, the Dundee Engine Plant, and the Warren Truck and Warren Stamping Plant.