Bryce Covert/Think Progress
On Sunday, FCA US, the parent company of Fiat and Chrysler, announcedthat it will spend $1 billion to expand plants in Michigan and Ohio and create 2,000 more jobs in the U.S. The move, as the company made clear in its press release, is simply the next phase in an expansion plan it announced last year and comes on top of billions of previous investments that created thousands of jobs.
“This plan was in the works back in 2015,” Jodi Tinson, a spokeswoman for FCA, told ThinkProgress. “This announcement…was just final confirmation.”
When asked directly if it was true that politics and the election had no influence on the announcement, she said, “Correct.”
But that didn’t stop President-elect Donald Trump from tweeting about it without that context. “It’s finally happening,” he said, describing FCA’s plans as well as Ford’s recent announcement that it would invest in a Michigan plant. “Thank you Ford & Fiat C!” he tweeted.
FCA US announced a year ago in an investor presentation that it was experiencing what it saw as a permanent shift among U.S. consumers from cars to SUVs and trucks, and that there was therefore unmet demand for larger vehicles than the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. It committed to expanding faster in the U.S. and to “[realigning] installed capacity to produce more pickups and Jeeps by end of 2017 to match shift in demand.” It said it would get to that goal within its existing plant infrastructure and potentially increase its headcount.
The company started following through in July of last year. It announced at that time that it would invest more than $1 billion in plants in Illinois and Ohio, adding new 1,000 jobs; and $1.5 billion in a Michigan plant, adding 700 jobs.
Monday’s announcement, therefore, is the second phase in this process and a confirmation of these ongoing plans ,“[c]onsistent and combined with previously announced investments,” as the company put it. The company says it has already invested more than $9.6 billion in U.S. facilities and created 25,000 new American jobs since 2009.
The same dynamic played out last week with Ford’s announcement. The company said it was ditching plans to build a new factory in Mexico and instead investing $700 million in a Michigan plant, creating 700 jobs. Trump quickly tweeted his thanks and said the announcement “is just the beginning.”
But Ford CEO Mark Fields maintained that the decision would have been made regardless of the election outcome. And while Trump had lambasted the company on the campaign trail for making the Focus in Mexico, the company hasn’t changed those operations.
Similarly, Trump took credit in December for Sprint’s decision to bring back or create 5,000 jobs in the U.S. and for satellite startup OneWeb’s move to create 3,000 — despite the fact that both are the outcome of an investment announced before he won the presidency.