Friday, October 26, 2012

Confusing reporting or backtracking on outsourcing Jeeps?

Fiat, the majority owner of bailed-out Chrysler, told Bloomberg that they were going to re-start production of Jeeps in China and perhaps move all Jeep production to that nation.

Here is the actual quote from Mike Manley, chief operating officer of Fiat and Chrysler in Asia (emphasis added):

“The volume opportunity for us is very significant,” Manley, who is also president of the Jeep brand, said in an interview at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills, Michigan, headquarters. “We’re reviewing the opportunities within existing capacity” as well as “should we be localizing the entire Jeep portfolio or some of the Jeep portfolio.”

I read the Bloomberg article and thought they were saying they were considering moving "the entire Jeep portfolio" to China, and reported that here on this blog.

To be clear, I didn't think that meant they would idle all the assembly lines and the U.S. work force; my point wasn't about the loss of jobs, but the loss of the Jeep brand being 'made in America' and the campaign implications if the iconic Jeep was outsourced to China.

Apparently, that's not at all what they intended and they're now 'clarifying' after Mitt Romney mentioned the article in a speech in Defiance last night. The Detroit News reports:

The Bloomberg story, though accurate, "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. work force. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats," Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said.

"Let's set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It's simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world's largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation."

The Bloomberg story, however, sparked the confusion in the first paragraph of the story, saying Chrysler planned to return Jeep output to China "and may eventually make all of its models in that country."

This may be a simple case of confusing reporting, but my distrust in this administration is so great that I couldn't help but wonder if someone didn't make a phone call to Chrysler to say 'hey - that's gonna hurt; make it go away.'

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