Chrysler CEO refutes Romney Jeep ads

Toledo will produce the next generation of Jeep, the Jeep SUV, in 2013.

Is Jeep moving overseas? It's a rumor now at the forefront of the presidential debate, but Chrysler's CEO has stepped forward to delegitimize new political ads stating Jeep production is leaving the U.S. for China.

In an email to the Detroit Free Press, Sergio Marchionne says he feels "obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China."

During a rally in Defiance last week, Gov. Mitt Romney spoke of reading a report in Bloomberg News about production moving to China, sparking concern over the future of U.S. Jeep plants like the one in Toledo. While Chrysler's vice president of communications called such plans a leap "difficult even for professional circus acrobats," the political ads began airing this past week, prompting Marchionne to release his statement.

Among Jeep's future plans outlined in the email, Marchionne mentioned the $1.7 billion investment in the Jeep SUV, which will be produced in Toledo, and the $500 million Toledo Assembly Complex investment, which brings 1,100 additional jobs to the plant.

Marchionne wrote to the Free Press: "Together, we are working to establish a global enterprise and previously announced our intent to return Jeep production to China, the worldâ??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."

A new article from Bloomberg also reports "Marchionne is considering building Chrysler models in Italy, including Jeeps, for export to North America" in order to "counter the severe slump in European sales."

But the report does not explicitly say Jeep production would shift to Italy from the U.S. Fiat SpA (F), majority owner of Chrysler Group LLC, declined to comment in Bloomberg's latest report.