Tuesday 13 December 2022

Jeep plant fires 1,350 American workers — will move factory to Mexico, citing high cost of electric vehicle production

 An Illinois Jeep manufacturer has announced it will fire thousands of American workers and move its operations to Mexico.

A significant factor behind the move and layoffs is the apparent cost of realizing the Biden administration's national goal of ensuring that 50% of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in 2030 are so-called zero-emission vehicles.

How it started

Just over a year ago, President Joe Biden signed an executive order pushing to ensure that half of all new vehicles made in America are electric.

In his executive order, Biden suggested that the push to phase out gas-burning automobiles "will allow us to boost jobs — with good pay and benefits — across the United States along the full supply chain for the automotive sector, from parts and equipment manufacturing to final assembly."

Having claimed that "the future will be made in America," Biden clambered into a Jeep Wrangler on the White House South Lawn and took it for a spin. 

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined other Democrats in celebrating the push, stating, "Today’s announcement from the Biden administration is good for our planet, good for our health, and good for our nation’s autoworkers."

NBC News reported that GM, Ford, and Jeep manufacturer Stellantis were on board, signaling their "commitment to be leaders in the U.S. transition to electric vehicles."

According to CNN, Stellantis indicated last July it would invest over $35.5 billion on electrifying its various vehicles over the next two years.

Biden underscored, "There's no turning back. The question is we will lead or fall behind in the race for the future."

How it's going

Stellantis indicated on Friday that around 1,350 Americans will be falling behind and out of work.

The company announced that its Belvidere Assembly Plant, which produces the Jeep Cherokee, will be shut down as of Feb. 28, reported the Associated Press.

"This difficult but necessary action will result in indefinite layoffs, which are expected to exceed six months," the company said in a statement.

According to Stellantis, the automotive industry "has been adversely affected by a multitude of factors like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the global microchip shortage, but the most impactful challenge is the increasing cost related to the electrification of the automotive market."

Whereas the Belvidere plant has up until now produced the Jeep Cherokee, the vehicle will now be assembled in a factory in Toluca, Mexico.

The United Automobile Workers (UAW) union quickly condemned the move, with UAW president Ray Curry calling it "grossly misguided."

"Not allocating new product to plants like Belvidere is unacceptable. Announcing the closure just a few weeks from the holidays is also a cruel disregard for the contributions of our members from UAW Locals 1268 and 1761. We will fight back against this announcement," said Curry.

Cindy Estrada, UAW vice president and director of the Stellantis Department, said in a statement, "We are all deeply angered by Stellantis’s decision to idle the Belvidere Assembly plant without a plan for future product."

"Companies like Stellantis receive billions in government incentives to transition to clean energy. It is an insult to all taxpayers that they are not investing that money back into our communities," added Estrada.

Extra to laying off thousands of Americans, Stellantis announced a recall of over 63,000 hybrid Wranglers over the weekend. The company also had to issue a recall for 280,000 Ram trucks last month.

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