Via Bloomberg: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will invest $1 billion toward making three new Jeep models in the U.S., plus a Ram pickup now built in Mexico, as President-elect Donald Trump pressures the auto industry to hire workers and produce vehicles above the border.
The outlays planned by 2020 include retooling factories in Michigan and Ohio and adding 2,000 jobs, according to a company statement. The Italian-American automaker confirmed the Jeep brand will add the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer sport utility vehicles and a truck model to its lineup. After improvements to a plant in Warren, Michigan, the site will be able to assemble heavy-duty Ram pickups now made in Saltillo, Mexico.
Fiat Chrysler is circulating the plans before any potential criticism of the company by Trump, who last week threatened General Motors Co. with import taxes for importing a version of its Chevrolet Cruze from Mexico. Ford Motor Co. last week canceled a $1.6 billion factory in the country and said it’ll invest $700 million into a Michigan plant.
“The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy,” Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in the statement. He also highlighted plans to export the SUVs and trucks. “We will finally have the capacity to successfully penetrate markets other than the U.S. which have historically been denied product due to capacity constraints.”
Fiat Chrysler employs more than 11,800 workers in Mexico at seven manufacturing facilities, which shipped 477,000 vehicles in 2015, according to the company’s website. Its models built south of the border include Ram trucks and vans in Saltillo and Fiat 500 small cars and Dodge Journey SUVs in Toluca.
The company is set to start producing a new version of its Jeep Compass SUV for the U.S. market at the Toluca plant. Its factory in Belvidere, Illinois, which used to assemble the model, is being retooled to make Jeep Cherokees SUVs.