Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne sent an email to all Chrysler employees Tuesday clarifying a rumor that the company may move production of its Jeep line to China.
Some speculated Chrysler was planning to pull Jeep production from Toledo and other American cities to China after Bloomberg News reported on plans to reopen a plant in Changsha, China. The plant has been closed since Chrysler was taken over by Fiat as part of the company's 2009 bankruptcy.
The rumor has become and issue in the campaign for president after former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney mentioned it last week on the campaign trail.
"I saw a story one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking about moving all production to China. I will fight for every good job in America. I'm going to fight to make sure trade is fair and if it's fair America will win," Romney said Thursday in Defiance, OH.
Local union and government leaders dismissed Romney's claims on Friday. In his email to employees Tuesday, Marchionne says Chrysler has no such plans.
"Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China," the email states. "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."
Read the full message below:
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:
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.
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