Before campaign season really got underway, the Big Three set a moratorium, barring politicians from visiting their plants until after November 6. Talk about shrewd moves. Our nation’s biggest economic drivers–cars and trucks–are also some of the most hotly debated these days. Mitt “let them go bankrupt…no, let’s do a structured reorganization” Romney decries President Barack Obama’s “I’m awesome because I bailed them out” strategy, never really accepting the fact that the president before him, George W. Bush, was the one who ordered the troubled asset relief funds (TARP) to be released to the automakers to keep them afloat when the economy tanked in 2009.
The whole thing’s a mess.
To compound it, a few days ago, a Bloomberg report came out suggesting that Chrysler’s Jeep SUV unit was moving all of its production overseas, or at least that’s how Romney’s people saw it. That would certainly be the disgrace of Obama’s tenure, now wouldn’t it?
“I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep–now owned by the Italians–is thinking of moving all production to China,” Romney told a crowd in Defiance, Ohio, last week, according to the Detroit News. His people quickly launched a commercial that backtracked on that statement a little. Chrysler is going to build Jeeps in China. Because it has in the past, and it’s cheaper to do so in the future. This really isn’t anything new.
Finally, after using much of the American automakers as political volleyballs this season, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has put rumors to rest: “Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.”
Expanding on that, the statement released by Marchionne said more production will be opening up in China to “satisfy local market demand, which would not otherwise be accessible.” Did you know that your German-built BMW is also built in China to satisfy local demand? The Chevrolet Malibu is also made in South Korea. Hey, the Chevrolet Cruze is made in Vietnam, Thailand, India, and China, for crying out loud.
Automakers make their products wherever they need to in order to make them quickly enough, and to tailor them for local tastes. Jeep opening up plants in China will actually help the U.S.; China is the largest car market in the world, and U.S. facilities are already at over-capacity levels to satisfy demand.
Most models will end up eventually being built in China, but we’re not likely to see that “Made in China” sticker on our cars anytime soon. That said, Marchionne guaranteed that the Jeep Wrangler would only be made in Toledo, Ohio, its home since the original World War II Jeeps. And with a thoroughly reinvigorated manufacturing system in the U.S., Jeep production is sure to stay close to the home of the American icon, at least as far as North America is concerned.
“Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand,” Marchionne concluded in his statement. “It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.”
So now that we have that settled, let’s move on to more important matters, shall we?