Fiat SpA has announced its intentions to add 800 employees to the Sterling Heights, Mich., plant that produces the Chrysler 200. Bloomberg is reporting that the company will spend nearly $1 billion to retrofit the plant so that it can produce the redesigned vehicle. This investment will include new paint and body shops and increase total production size to about 2 million square feet.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said, “This plant is the Cinderella story of Chrysler. In June 2009 this plant was on the execution list and it was going to disappear at the end of 2010.”
The Sterling Heights plant was slated to close after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy back in 2010. But because the automaker was able to pull of a recovery — thanks in part to Fiat’s investment in the company, which became a full stake back in January. The community, and the workers who spent their days at the plant, rallied to convince the Fiat-controlled Chrysler to purchase the plant back. Marchionne praised local leaders, including the mayor of Sterling Heights, for their efforts to convince the company to keep the plant operational.
“The success of the Chrysler 200 will ultimately depend upon the pride and of the integrity of the men and the women who work here,” Marchionne said. The major players involved, including representatitves from the United Auto Workers (UAW) reiterated that the investment is the result of successful negotiation between management and ground-level workers, but also said that the near-death of the plant should be an educational moment going forward.
Despite concerns over Fiat’s choice to build a new Jeep in Italy — the first time a Jeep will be made anywhere but the U.S., Canada or Mexico — it seems that the company is still very much interested in American manufacturing.