The Romney campaign put up an ad in the battleground auto state of Ohio that was false, drawing the immediate ire of Chrysler management and workers. The Romney campaign is desperate to tarnish the record of the Obama administration in resuscitating the auto industry and bringing back jobs, including Chrysler jobs in Ohio.
The truth is that the U.S. auto industry is back on its feet thanks to the auto rescue loans. But equally important, it’s more competitive than it was in 2009, thanks to stronger fuel efficiency standards and support for advanced vehicle manufacturing adopted by the Obama Administration.
To recap, over the weekend, the Romney campaign ran an ad suggesting Chrysler– which received government bailout money–plans to ship American jobs to China. Apparently Romney’s campaign team badly misinterpreted a recent Bloomberg News story that said Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is thinking of building all of its Jeep models in China for sale in the Chinese market.
Chrysler’s response has been immediate and blunt: 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.
Workers at Chrysler are also clearly unhappy. According to the Detroit News article:
“Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about the auto industry and Chrysler’s production plans would know what Mitt Romney said wasn’t true,” said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department. “Since the 2009 auto rescue and recovery, we’ve added 7,000 workers at Chrysler, and we’ll add a third shift next week at the Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit – where Jeep Grand Cherokees and other models are made.”
“It’s just another slap in the face to our autoworkers, but not surprising since Mitt Romney opposed the auto loans of Chrysler and General Motors,” said Ken Lortz, who directs UAW Region 2B, which represents workers in Ohio, as well as Indiana. “The Jeep plant in Toledo is expanding right now. In fact one year ago, Chrysler announced the addition of a second shift and 1,100 more jobs, along with a $500 million investment in upgrading the plant and adding a body shop. Shame on Mitt Romney for twisting the story to scare people and then not even admitting he was wrong.”
The fact that the auto industry is back on its feet is irrefutable.
According to analysis done by the Natural Resources Defense Council, of official data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the auto industry employment low point in June 2009, the U.S. auto sector has added 231,600 jobs as of September 2012. Employment in auto manufacturing (motor vehicle assembly plus motor vehicle parts manufacturing) has increased by 152,300, for 24.4% gain since the trough. Auto dealer jobs have also grown by 79,300 jobs.
Ohio’s auto sector also is seeing robust growth with 9,600 jobs added for a gain of 14.7% since the trough of June 2009. Ohio, the unemployment rate has also dropped much faster than the national rate, by 3.4 percentage points to below the national average to 7.2%.
But the auto industry is not just back on its feet, it’s more competitive than ever, now able to go head-to-head on the latest fuel efficiency technologies with the Japanese, Koreans and Germans.
Driving this competiveness is the latest round of standards. Model year 2012 is the first year of a long-term federal program that requires a sales-weighted average of the equivalent of 35.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The evidence of the Obama fuel economy standards driving job growth is clear as documented in NRDC’s recent study Driving Growth.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of investment are flowing into Ohio and thousands of workers are being hired. For instance:
- In Toledo, Chrysler is investing $500 million and hiring 1,100 new workers to build the next generation, more fuel-efficient Jeep models, and GM is investing in building advanced transmissions to squeeze more miles from each gallon.
- In Lordstown, GM has three shifts building the fuel efficient, compact Chevy Cruze. In the Marysville area, Honda is investing gas sipping continuously variable transmissions to help make its new Accord class leader for fuel efficiency.
- Finally, Ford has hired a third shift to its Cleveland factory to build the award winning, highly popular Ecoboost engines.
It’s unfortunate when any campaign misrepresents the facts. But given the strong and clear evidence of how the Obama administration has helped the auto industry in Ohio and elsewhere, it appears that his opponent feels it must twist the truth.