A Chrysler spokeswoman confirmed that the president would visit one of Chrysler's Toledo-area plants, but declined to provide details. The Detroit News, quoting a person briefed on the matter, said the visit likely would take place next Friday.
Obama was traveling in Europe on Tuesday and could not attend the celebration of Chrysler's repayment of $5.1 billion in loans to the U.S. Treasury, so the visit could give the president a chance to mark that occasion. On Tuesday, he sent his manufacturing representative, Ron Bloom, to Chrysler's Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant for the event.
Chrysler could use a presidential visit to Toledo to announce its investment plans for the Toledo Assembly Complex, which consists of two factories. Chrysler makes the Jeep Wrangler in Toledo Supplier Park and the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro in Toledo North.
Chrysler has not announced long-term plans for Toledo. But Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in January the company expected to announce an investment within six months.
During a January interview at the Detroit auto show, Marchionne said Chrysler was near a decision on a replacement for the Liberty and Nitro. The Liberty and Nitro were among the only vehicles not revamped in Chrysler's 2011 product offensive. The Toledo North plant is one of the few Chrysler plants operating on a single shift. Chrysler also operates its Toledo Machining Plant in nearby Perrysburg.
Chrysler employs about 2,500 hourly and salaried workers at its three Toledo-area plants.
Chrysler repaid $7.6 billion in loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments Tuesday, almost two years after the automaker was bailed out and six years ahead of schedule.
In a statement from London, where he is traveling, Obama praised Chrysler for repaying its $5.1 billion debt to the U.S. Treasury.
"Supporting the American auto industry required making some tough decisions, but I was not willing to walk away from the workers at Chrysler and the communities that rely on this iconic American company," Obama said in the statement. "I said if Chrysler and all its stakeholders were willing to take the difficult steps necessary to become more competitive, America would stand by them, and we did."
Obama sanctioned loans to the automaker in 2009 to allow it to exit bankruptcy on the condition that it merged with Fiat S.p.A.. The Italian automaker owns 46 percent of Chrysler.