Why Volts built on Mars are possible -- in an election year

Automotive News | October 26, 2012 - 2:19 pm EST

I hear General Motors is planning to lay off thousands of workers in Detroit and move production of the Chevrolet Volt to Mars.

This is obviously more bad news for Detroit, which will then be left with nothing but three guys shivering around a burn barrel and recently was named the Most Dangerous City in America to Be a Third Base Coach in the World Series.

Sure, a car factory on Mars, where the lack of oxygen means healthcare costs are sky-high, makes no sense, but who cares? It's almost Election Day. Now is not the time to start letting facts and accuracy get in the way of a good campaign rally.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney told some 12,000 people at an Ohio rally Thursday that Fiat-controlled Chrysler is considering moving all Jeep production from the United States to China. That would be a devastating blow to a state that — in between visits from presidential candidates — has built Jeeps since the 1940s.

"I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep — now owned by the Italians — is thinking of moving all production to China," Romney said in Defiance, Ohio. "I will fight for every good job in America. I'm going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it's fair America will win."

Romney's statement, which was immediately followed by an endorsement from Meat Loaf, begs two responses:

1. Moving to China sounds pretty good to me at this point. Nothing makes communism more appealing than having to endure election year in a democracy. Also, you don't have to worry about Meat Loaf suddenly showing up in China.

2. It's completely false.

Chrysler and "the Italians" are indeed thinking of building Jeeps in China. But only to sell in China and perhaps other developing countries in that part of the world.

Chinese-made Jeeps would not be sold in the United States. And no American jobs would be displaced as a result. Building vehicles in the region of the world where they are sold is common practice in today's global auto industry, and very few vehicles are imported into China from elsewhere.

Chrysler wants to build Jeeps in China, the world's largest auto market, in order to grow its sales in China. That would increase Chrysler's profits, which would flow back to its headquarters in the United States, where it could theoretically hire more workers and pay them more money.

The company confirmed this in a statement it released BEFORE Romney spoke Thursday, after numerous conservative blogs and news outlets began misinterpreting a story by Bloomberg News.

"Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China," Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri wrote. "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."

Much of the credit/blame for spreading the misinformation that ultimately reached Romney goes to the Washington Examiner, which wrote that Jeep "is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China."

The Examiner asserted that the move "would crash the economy in towns like Toledo, Ohio, where Jeeps are made and supplied, and rob the community of the economic security they thought Obama's auto bailout assured them."

For Ohioans being bombarded by political ads around the clock, there are plenty of reasons to be scared the closer we get to Election Day. Losing Jeep to China is not one of them.

Nick Bunkley is an enterprise reporter for Automotive News.Nick Bunkley is an enterprise reporter for Automotive News.

PRINTED FROM: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121026/blog06/121029920&template=printart

Entire contents © 2014 Crain Communications, Inc.