Reports of Chrysler's plans to build Jeeps in China sent a panic through Northwest Ohio over the future of Toledo's assembly plant.
A Bloomberg News article reports that Fiat SpA (F), majority owner of Chrysler Group LLC, is in talks with its Chinese partner about restoring production of the vehicle overseas. While the article stated Chrysler would add these production sites to its current operations, Gov. Mitt Romney referenced the report during his speech in Defiance on Thursday night, from which he concluded that Jeep production would shift out of the country completely.
"I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China. I will fight for every good job in America, Iâ??m going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if itâ??s fair, America will win." Romney said.
But Chrysler's vice president of communications, Gualberto Ranieri, issued a statement Thursday night, assuring Jeep had no plans to leave the country and that it would be a leap "difficult even for professional circus acrobats."
"It's simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the worldâ??s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation," he wrote.
UAW Region 2B director Ken Lortz called Romney's statements about Jeep production moving to China "offensive and wrong."
"The auto industry supports 1 in 8 jobs in Ohio. We Ohioans know the truth. We will continue to build our great products here in Toledo, in Ohio, and across this great nation because thanks to President Obama, Americaâ??s auto industry has come roaring back. We will never forget that you were so quick to let it slip away," Lortz said.
The success of Toledo's Jeep production after the U.S. auto bailout has been something touted by President Obama during this election cycle. After Romney's remarks at the Defiance rally, the president's campaign reiterated Chrysler's statement and added, "President Obama has fought on behalf of U.S. auto workers by challenging unfair Chinese tariffs on U.S. auto exports to China, including Jeeps, while Romney would have let the American auto industry and a million jobs go under."
The Romney campaign has not yet issued a response to the incorrect statements made about Jeep production during the Defiance rally.