The battle for the 2012 U.S. elections has spilled over the automobile industry after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told an Ohio crowd last week that Jeep is planning to move all of its production to China, while also airing an ad that says Obama "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job."
The problem is that the Chrysler Group is not considering to relocate production from the U.S. to China, but instead is weighing its options to open new plants in China to meet increasing demand in the country.
Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne issued a statement on Tuesday to clarify the matter. The 60-year old CEO explained that the Detroit carmaker will not only continue to produce cars in North America, but also plans to increase its output adding some 1,100 jobs in Toledo, Ohio, to manufacture the next Liberty by 2013.
Not to miss out on an opportunity to go after Romney, President Barack Obama's campaign quickly released a new spot named "Collapse – Obama for America", which addresses the Jeep issue.
Here's an excerpt from the ad: "And now, after Romney's false claim of Jeep outsourcing to China, Chrysler itself has refuted Romney's lie. The truth? Jeep is adding jobs in Ohio. Mitt Romney on Ohio jobs? Wrong then, dishonest now."
Both Sergio Marchionne's statement and the new television spot from the Obama campaign can be found right after the jump.
Sergio Marchionne's Statement:
"Chrysler Group’s production plans for the Jeep brand have become the focus of public debate.
I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.
North American production is critical to achieving our goal of selling 800,000 Jeep vehicles by 2014. In fact, U.S. production of our Jeep models has nearly tripled (it is expected to be up 185%) since 2009 in order to keep up with global demand.
We also are investing to improve and expand our entire U.S. operations, including our Jeep facilities. The numbers tell the story:
- We will invest more than $1.7 billion to develop and produce the next generation Jeep SUV, the successor of the Jeep Liberty -- including $500 million directly to tool and expand our Toledo Assembly Complex and will be adding about 1,100 jobs on a second shift by 2013.
- At our Jefferson North Assembly Plant, where we build the Jeep Grand Cherokee, we have created 2,000 jobs since June 2009 and have invested more than $1.8 billion.
- In Belvidere, where we build two Jeep models, we have added two shifts since 2009 resulting in an additional 2,600 jobs.
With the increase in demand for our vehicles, especially Jeep branded vehicles, we have added more than 11,200 U.S. jobs since 2009. Plants producing Jeep branded vehicles alone have seen the number of people invested in the success of the Jeep brand grow to more than 9,300 hourly jobs from 4,700. This will increase by an additional 1,100 as the Liberty successor, which will be produced in Toledo, is introduced for global distribution in the second quarter of 2013.
Together, we are working to establish a global enterprise and previously announced our intent to return Jeep production to China, the world’s largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand, which would not otherwise be accessible. Chrysler Group is interested in expanding the customer base for our award-winning Jeep vehicles, which can only be done by establishing local production. This will ultimately help bolster the Jeep brand, and solidify the resilience of U.S. jobs.
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.
Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand.
It is inaccurate to suggest anything different."