WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Fiat Chrysler on Sunday announced it will add thousands of jobs as it plans to build several Jeep models, as well as expand production of the Dodge Ram, at its factories in Michigan and Ohio
Fiat Chrysler announced that it plans to invest $1 billion and hire 2,000 people at plants in Michigan and Ohio by 2020, contingent on the negotiation of tax incentives in both states.
Although there was speculation the move was meant to appease President-elect Donald Trump and head off criticism for the number of vehicles the company manufactures in Mexico, employees report they've heard rumors of expansions in both states and Fiat Chrysler executives say the plans have been in the works for well over a year.
"The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy," Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer at Fiat Chrysler, said in a statement. "We will finally have the capacity to successfully penetrate markets other than the U.S. which have historically been denied product due to capacity constraints."
Fiat Chrysler employs more than 11,800 workers in Mexico at seven facilities, but plans to add the manufacturing and assembly of three Jeep models to factories in Michigan and Ohio -- expanding production of the Jeep Wrangler, the revived Jeep Wagoneer and a Jeep-brand pickup truck.
The $1 billion investment will be to upgrade plants and alter others -- work on the Jeep Cherokee will move from Ohio to Illinois, and Jeep Compass and Patriot production will shift to a plant in Mexico.
The company also is looking to expand Dodge Ram sales overseas, and so is preparing a factory in Warren, Mich., to handle production of the truck beyond what is already done in Mexico.
Dennis Williams, president of the United Auto Workers, has been working with Marchionne on the plans for some time and said the announcement should offer comfort about the company's plans to grow its footprint in the United States.
"These investments will benefit UAW members, their families and [their] communities by providing greater job security," Williams said.