Fiat Chrysler: New Plant For Jeeps Said To Be Planned In Detroit

Fiat Chrysler will open another assembly plant in the Detroit area, according to a person familiar with the automaker's plan. It would mark the first new auto assembly line to open in Detroit in 27 years.

The source said the plant will produce SUVs but did not specify when it will open or how many jobs it will create. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.

Fiat Chrysler declined to comment Thursday.

The company plans to reopen a former engine plant, which has been shuttered since 2012, on the city's east side to make Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs with three rows of seats starting with the 2021 model year, the Detroit News reported Thursday. The Mack Avenue Engine II plant will employ 100 to 400 people, the newspaper said. 

The move comes as other automakers are cutting back or retrenching amid shifting consumer tastes. General Motors announced last week that it plans to cut up to 14,000 jobs in North America and consider closing five plants as it abandons many cars in favor of trucks and SUVS, as well as autonomous and electric vehicles.

Yet Fiat Chrysler has seen strong sales of light trucks and SUVs including its Jeep and Dodge Ram models, helping boost November U.S. sales to more than 181,000 vehicles, its best November in 17 years. Sales of the Ram line jumped 44 percent, but sales of Chrysler cars and minivans slumped 21 percent.

Fiat Chrysler "is essentially out of capacity," Jeff Schuster, an analyst with LMC Automotive in Troy, told the Detroit News. "They're kind of running up against being against full capacity. This is a very different situation than what GM is dealing with."

The company's chief financial officer told investors in June that trucks and SUVs would account for 80 percent of revenue by 2022.

President Donald Trump ripped GM for the cuts, which will include salaried workers and employees on factory floors. Trump has promised more jobs in the auto industry. At a rally last summer near a GM plant in Ohio, he told the crowd that jobs are "all coming back."

Lawmakers in both parties have also blasted GM, complaining that the company could be using savings from lower taxes to employ more Americans, not fewer.

U.S.-traded shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV fell 49 cents, or 3 percent, to close at $16. They have dropped 10 percent in 2018.

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