Fiat, Dodge, and Jeep’s parent company, Stellantis, has stated that it would close a facility and lay off 1,200 people in February. Its justification? Of course, it faces pressure fromCOVID-19 and chip shortages, but the production of electric cars is the primary factor.
This comes as the manufacturer prepares for union discussions at the Jeep Cherokee assembly plant in Illinois. An unidentified Stellantis spokesman told that it was the cause for the suspension, despite United Auto Workers’ claims that “the move to electrification also presents chances” at the facility. The firm believes that the rising costs associated with the electrification of the automobile sector present the greatest issue, and that it is looking into alternative uses for the factory and seeking to find employment for the individuals it is laying off as a result.
The Stellantis Group is investing heavily on electric vehicles.
But hold on a second: one of the world’s top automakers is threatening to permanently close a factory due to the high expense of electrification. Considering that they are in my opinion a distant third behind the major three American automakers in the battle to switch their lines from gas to batteries, that is a bold assertion. Stellantis has been promising a slew of electric Jeeps, and this plant seems like it would be well suited to help produce at least one of those cars, which is scheduled for release sometime next year (and many of which have been very difficult to find).
Stellantis, however, is still investing heavily in EVs, having pledged to spend up to $3 billion on a battery factory in Indiana in partnership with Samsung and spending another $4.1 billion on a comparable facility in Canada with LG. Ford has announced it will spend over $11.4 billion on three EV-related locations, which may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to General Motors’ $7 billion investment in one of its three EV battery factories in the works, Honda’s $4.4 billion investment in an Ohio plant (plus another $700 million to retool existing facilities), and Ford’s $11.4 billion investment in Mexico.
Ford, however, is a compelling counterexample because it, too, has just undergone a large-scale wave of layoffs, affecting something in the neighbourhood of 3,000 employees. To paraphrase a message from CEO Jim Farley and chairman Bill Ford, “We have an opportunity to lead this exciting new era of connected and electrified automobiles,” staff were given. To construct this future, we must alter and reform the fundamentals of our more than a century-old methods of operation. Naturally, this resulted in fewer positions becoming available.
It’s too soon to tell if electric vehicles will become a regular scapegoat if the auto industry continues to carry out layoffs, but at least two corporations are already attempting to cast the future as the cost of thousands of people’s jobs. (EV-native firms like Tesla or Rivian, both of whom have experienced significant rounds of layoffs this year, do not have this luxury.)
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