Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday announced a $4.5 billion investment plan it says wwill increase its workforce in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs by about 6,500 jobs to build all-new or next-generation SUVs.
Under the plan, the company says it will reopen a shuttered engine plant in the city and convert another in the same complex into a future assembly plant. The future facility will build the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a new, three-row, full-size Jeep SUV and plug-in hybrid models for all.
The Motor City was once home to about a dozen massive auto production plants, but a rash of closures helped to push Detroit’s unemployment rate to a peak of around 25 percent in 1990. Unemployment was down to about 8 percent last fall.
The new Chrysler plant would be the first to be built in the city since 1991 and is expected to add 3,850 jobs. The company says in a news release that it will add another 1,100 new jobs at its Jefferson North Assembly plant, and roughly 1,500 new jobs at facilities in the neighboring suburb of Warren.
Officials say the SUVs remain in demand, with strong sales and growth potential, both domestically and in some overseas markets, such as the Middle East. The company’s chief financial officer told investors in June that trucks and SUVs would account for 80 percent of revenue by 2022.
Fiat Chrysler says the additional investments are subject to tax incentive packages it’s working out with the city and state of Michigan. The automaker still needs to acquire property for the project.
If those deals are approved, construction is expected to start later this year. The first new vehicles could be in production by the end of 2020.
The automaker’s injection of money and jobs into the Motor City contrasts sharply with news from rival General Motors Co., which announced plans to idle its Detroit-Hamtramck plant and four other facilities in the U.S. and Canada in the coming months.