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FCA tried to regain Dodge Main land from GM

by David Zatz on

According to a recent piece by Michael Wayland and Chad Livengood in Automotive News, before starting a complex land deal near Jefferson North—at the far Eastern boundaries of Detroit proper—FCA tried to buy the GM Hamtramck plant.

Dodge MainThe Dodge Main plant was demolished to make room for GM’s Hamtramck plant. The project was heavily subsidized by taxpayers and involved demolition of healthy neighborhoods, but GM ended up installing far more automation than discussed with officials, and only around a third of the promised jobs were delivered. 

Hamtramck was controversial when it was built, because GM obtained city, county, and state funds to build a massive assembly plant, displacing thousands of residents and businesses along with the abandoned five-story Dodge Main assembly plant. When GM finally finished its work, with government authorities having forcibly emptied out a relatively safe, prosperous neighborhood, it boasted that the new plant was highly automated, and provided a fraction of the jobs it had promised.

According to the article, citing anonymous sources, GM and FCA had serious discussions but couldn’t reach a deal. The plant is only 34 years old now, and GM claimed to have no new product for it after January 2020.

Refusing to sell the plant suggests that GM is not serious about shutting it down, which would mean the end of the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala (unless the cars were moved elsewhere). GM still has three plants whose fate is unknown, in or near Lordstown, Ohio, Warren, Michigan, and Baltimore, Maryland, but only one of those is an assembly plant (Lordstown)—and FCA has been concentrating its manufacturing in a tight geographical space.

The Mack Avenue location in Detroit, near the Jefferson and Conner Avenue plants, seems to be final now, as at least one required land deal has gone through: the City of Detroit has acquired 215 acres of land needed by FCA. As part of preparation to make the next-generation Grand Cherokee and update the Durango, FCA is investing $900 million into Jefferson North; to make the Wagoneer and continue production of the Ram 1500 Classic into the foreseeable future, the company will spend $1.5 billion at Warren (Michigan).

FCA is expected to create 4,950 jobs at Mack and Jefferson North, with an average (not median) salary of $58,000 per year. The neighborhoods surrounding the site will also be upgraded with city and state grants. Local residents will be allowed to apply for jobs before the general public.

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