Fiat Chrysler reconsidering Ram production move praised by Trump
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV may keep making heavy-duty Ram pickups in Mexico, reconsidering a move President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted as validation for his America-first policies.
Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley told Reuters in an interview that the company could continue to build the big trucks at a plant in Saltillo, plus start assembling them at a factory north of Detroit. He said the additional output may be needed to continue gaining market share.
Trump has repeatedly lauded Fiat Chrysler’s plan and pointed to it as evidence that companies are moving production to the U.S. from Mexico because of his administration’s trade, tax and regulatory policies. While the company appears to be carrying on with plans to invest $1 billion and add 2,500 new jobs at the truck plant outside Detroit, that expansion may no longer be made at the expense of the Saltillo factory.
“Before we make big industrial moves, we’re going to look at current market and economic decisions,” Mike Keegan, a Fiat Chrysler spokesman, said by phone Monday.
About two months before he died and was succeeded by Manley, then-CEO Sergio Marchionne drew Trump’s praise during a visit of top auto company executives to the White House. The president called the late Fiat Chrysler chief “my favorite man in the room.” He tweeted about the company five times in January, when the Mexico-to-Michigan shift was announced.
Since then, the Trump administration has renegotiated a trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. While the revised Nafta accord, known as USMCA, requires an increased level of auto content to be sourced from the continent and to be made by workers earning higher wages, carmakers avoided the prospects of steep tariffs and disruption to supply chains.
Manley told Reuters that Fiat Chrysler needed to ascend to second place in the U.S. full-size truck market. The company trails Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. in full-size truck sales, though the Ram pickup has outsold GM’s Chevrolet Silverado each of the last two months.