Chrysler: Romney is wrong, Jeep not leaving US for China

Chrysler is not moving Jeep production from Ohio to China despite claims by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, the auto company said.

During a campaign rally in Defiance, Ohio, on Thursday, Romney accused the Detroit-based automaker, one of the recipients of the Obama administration's $80-billion bailout of the U.S. auto industry, of planning to shift production of its Jeep brand of cars overseas.

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But the auto company said in a blog post on its website that the reports were based on bad information because the cars built in China were going to be sold to Chinese customers.

"There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach," Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri wrote.

"On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report 'Fiat Says Jeep Output May Return to China as Demand Rises' stated 'Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio," Ranieri continued. "Manley (President and CEO of the Jeep brand) referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China."

In his speech to supporters in Ohio, Romney cited the Bloomberg report in attempt to push back on attacks from President Obama for his opposition to the bailout that was given to Chrysler and General Motors in 2008 and 2009. Obama has seized on an op-ed Romney wrote in the New York Times that was titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" to argue that he was not in favor of the preservation of the U.S. auto industry, which many jobs in Ohio are tied to.

“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 his Defiance speech. “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.”

But the former Massachusetts governor appeared to have jumped the gun.

"Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce," Ranieri wrote. "It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

"Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China," he continued. "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."

The Obama campaign also reacted strongly to Romney's remarks, saying in a statement "As Chrysler said … ‘Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China.’

"And what’s more: President Obama has fought on behalf of U.S. auto workers by challenging unfair Chinese tariffs on U.S. auto exports to China, including Jeeps, while Romney would have let the American auto industry and a million jobs go under,” the Obama campaign's statement said. 

-This post was updated at 7:11 p.m.