Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the implementation of the plan, with the Defense Ministry's help, may lead to the employment of hundreds of new workers in the factory in order to meet the planned production volume: Some 3,000 jeeps a year, more than triple the current production volume.
The first of the 550 Storm 3 jeeps ordered by the Defense Ministry was delivered to the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday in a festive ceremony attended by Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani and factory owner, Zvi Neta.
The deal, worth NIS 47 million (about $13 million) and another $23 million in American aid, is the most expensive contract for the purchase of an unarmored Israeli vehicle to be signed by the Defense Ministry, and is part of the ministry's aid to industries in Israel's periphery.
The third generation of the Israeli jeep is based on the military model of the J8 jeep manufactured by Chrysler, with adjustments to the IDF's need, such as a 24-volt electric system.
The American company saw a demand among army, police and security forces across the world for a military jeep which would be smaller and cheaper than the Hummer, and is available in an armored version as well.
Although Chrysler manufactures the Storm 3 components, it doesn't have its own assembly line to produce the military jeep. Such assembly lines can only be found in Israel, Egypt and Venezuela.
Of these three options, Chrysler prefers working with the Israeli factory, which has proved its ability to develop additional versions based on the American measures, as it did in the development of the armored model. More than 100 units of this model have been exported to clients abroad over the past year.
If the plan materializes, it will be the first time a foreign manufacturer markets an Israeli-made vehicle abroad, at a volume of thousands of units per year. Automotive Industries already market the Storm 3 abroad, but Fiat-Chrysler's connections and marketing abilities may have a much bigger impact in striking deals.
The last auto factory operating in Israel supplies work for some 150 people at the moment.
If the plan to start assembling jeeps for the Italian-American concern is realized, the number of people employed by the factory will grow to about 500. In an area of unemployment like the Galilee, this is a significant addition.
Today, the northern factory's operations are far from its maximum capability, manufacturing only two jeeps a day – a pace which is slated to increase to three next year following a number of planned export deals.
The factory is already prepared to manufacture seven Storm jeeps on each shift, so that the materialization of the new deal with Chrysler will not require significant investments in the production line, apart from introducing two shifts a day.
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