Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV stated on Tuesday it will spend $4.5 billion in five plants to construct new models of Jeeps to rival in the lucrative market for full-size, three-row SUVs presently dominated by competitors General Motors and Ford Motor.
At the same time, the automaker stated it was slashing the third shift at its Rockford, Illinois plant, where it builds the Jeep Cherokee, laying off 1,371 employees. The company stated it would “make every effort” to discover work for laid off hourly employees based on seniority.
The new investments declared on Tuesday will generate 6,500 jobs in Michigan, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) stated in an announcement about three months after GM stated it would not allocate new products to five plants in North America that mainly produce less-popular sedan models.
GM workers and politicians, consisting U.S. President Donald Trump, have criticized GM for the decision, which is likely to shut down those plants.
The move comes at a time when the U.S. market is set to decline, with 2019 industry-wide new vehicle sales expected to drop below 2018 levels.
But FCA Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley stated in a conference call with reporters that the company’s investments are concentrating on SUVs, an area “forecasted to continue to grow”.