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Romney ad means headaches for Chrysler

by Bill Cawthon on

The Romney campaign is drawing fire from the Obama camp and the media over a new ad that seems to turn a blooper into a talking point.

The ad, which is running in Ohio, is based on a Bloomberg report from October 22 stating the Chrysler Group is considering production of its Jeep line in China.

The article by Craig Truedell began: “Fiat SpA, majority owner of Chrysler Group LLC, plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in that country, according to the head of both automakers’ operations in the region.”

Just a few paragraphs later, Truedell wrote: “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

The first paragraph drowned out the latter one, as political blogs claimed that Chrysler was planning to move all Jeep production to China. Mr. Romney used these second hand reports as the basis for part of a speech delivered on October 25 in Defiance, Ohio.

The error prompted Gualberto Ranieri, Chrysler’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, to write: “There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach. … Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

“Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.”

While the political impact of these ads remains to be seen, the controversy is creating headaches for Chrysler, which has studiously avoided an appearance of favoring one side or the other.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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