Fiat Chrysler announced Tuesday that the company opening a new auto assembly plant in southeast Michigan as part of a multi-billion expansion into the city of Detroit.
The plant will provide roughly 6,500 jobs to the city and is considered a monumentally large commitment, especially given Detroit’s recent struggles. The Mack Avenue Engine factory will be converted to an assembly plant for the Jeep Grand Cherokee and a new SUV, the company told reporters.
“This is the way the city of Detroit fights unemployment and poverty,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement about the assembly plant. “Standing here today, to be back in the city of Detroit, is truly remarkable.” Other government officials mirrored his point, adding that the plant means new job opportunities citizens.
“It’s much bigger than the city of Detroit,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters before the announcement. “This is going to be an incredibly wonderful thing for the state of Michigan. In the last 15 years, only seven new assembly plants have been built in the United States.”
FCA is making a play for the growing market for three-row SUVs, FCA Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley told reporters. FCA is discontinuing production on compact car production and retooled plants in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, the company noted.
“Economic indicators, as we see them, are strong,” he said.
News of the factory buildup comes less than three months after GM announced in November 2018 plans to cut roughly 14,000 jobs in North America while idling factories in Michigan, Ohio, and Maryland. The layoffs were part of the company’s plan to focus on manufacturing electric vehicles over gas-powered sedans.
“We are taking these actions now while the company and the economy are strong to stay in front of a fast-changing market,” CEO Mary Barra told reporters at the time of the layoffs. President Donald Trump later threatened to cut GM’s government subsidies shortly after learning about the layoffs — the president won Michigan by slim margins in 2016.
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