With apologies to Mark Twain, reports heralding the death of auto production in Detroit are exaggerated.
General Motors shocked Michigan, Ohio and Maryland last week with plans to idle four assembly plants next year and eliminate 8,000 salaried jobs. GM CEO Mary Barra spent two days on Capitol Hill this week fielding pleas from lawmakers to reconsider pleas she appears to have politely refused.
Enter Fiat Chrysler. Its late CEO, the legendary Sergio Marchionne, was the first in Detroit to acknowledge the death of the American car and to actually do something about it. Fiat Chrysler dropped car production in the United States long before its hometown rivals dared do the same. Nearly three years later, it’s poised to reap a reward, and so is Detroit the home of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Detroit News reported this week that Fiat Chrysler is prepared to announce as early as next week that it plans to revive its Mack No. 2 engine plant and convert it into a second assembly plant for the iconic Grand Cherokee. Up to 400 new jobs are expected to be created as the automaker and the United Auto Workers move staffing around to meet demand and retooling.
A renovated Mack facility would be Detroit’s first new assembly plant in 27 years. It would cushion the blow that’s expected when GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant is scheduled to cease production in June, just weeks before national contract talks with the UAW begin.