Chrysler Group CEO Refutes Outsourcing Rumors
The auto industry has seen its share of wild rumors and innuendo in the past, but a recent controversy over production of vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler even has Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of the Chrysler Group, weighing in on matters: “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.”
The problem arose when Bloomberg News reported that robust demand for Jeep products—sales of which are up 20 percent so far this year in the U.S.—has the brand looking to grow its presence in the Chinese auto market—the world’s largest. But while the Bloomberg story indicated Jeep was only interested in building its China-market vehicles in that country, in much the same way, for example, Honda builds many of its U.S. vehicles here in the United States, something got lost in the translation.
As explained by the Chrysler Group’s Gualberto Raineri, senior vice president for Corporate Communications: “Despite clear and accurate reporting, the [Bloomberg article] has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.
“Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China.”
(Emphasis in original.)
Marchionne also leveraged the issue to provide an update on future manufacturing plans for the Jeep division, announcing in recent remarks that they will include a $1.7 billion investment in the development of the upcoming Jeep Liberty replacement. Further supporting the new vehicle—which will be built at Jeep’s assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio, after a $500 million expansion project—will be the addition of about 1,100 U.S. jobs.
And that’s just the latest in a string of recent investments from Jeep. Even without considering the effect of the Liberty replacement, Jeep has added some 4,600 U.S. jobs since 2009, while contributing more than $1.8 billion to boost American manufacturing.
Marchionne then capped off his statement by making an explicit promise regarding the Jeep Wrangler: “Jeep is one of our truly global brands with uniquely American roots. This will never change. So much so that we committed that the iconic Wrangler nameplate, currently produced in our Toledo, Ohio, plant, will never see full production outside the United States.”