Fiat Chrysler may have earned itself a gold star from Donald Trump with the announcement of a $1 billion investment in updating two plants in Michigan and Ohio, a move expected to create around 2,000 jobs by 2020. The company says a plant near Detroit will make new Jeep Grand Wagoneers and a plant in Toledo will make new Jeep pickups, CNBC reports. In a statement, the company said it is "demonstrating its commitment to strengthening its US manufacturing base, and aligning US capacity to extend the Jeep product lineup" amid rising demand for bigger vehicles. Sources tell the Detroit Free Press that the company is also considering shifting some production of Ram pickups from Michigan to Mexico.
Fiat says the move is the second part of a plan to reshuffle production around North America, and insiders tell Reuters that the decision had nothing to do with Trump's recent attacks on GM and Toyota for plans to expand production in Mexico, though the timing of the announcement was apparently intended to deflect criticism from the president-elect. The North American International Auto show began on Saturday and other automakers announcing US investments included Volkswagen, which says it will start building its new Atlas SUV in Tennessee this year, though the move isn't Trump-related. "We do not make our investment decisions based on administrative cycles. Our business is really an 8-, 12-, 14-year horizon when we look at investments," Hinrich Woebcken, the company's North America chief, tells Reuters.