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Here PDL AE rant of the week

DateMonday, October 6, 2014 at 08:58AM

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. The hand-wringing has been dialed-up to “11” around here this week. First we have the controversy of Sergio The Great declaring in Paris that the new Jeep Wrangler would transition to unibody construction (from body-on-frame) and most likely be constructed of aluminum, with smaller, turbocharged engines being part of the equation as well. A lighter and more efficient Jeep Wrangler is an obvious development, no surprises there, and given the direction of the global auto industry and the fact that the Wrangler will be sold in more and more places around the world, it all makes perfect sense.

And then Marchionne proceeded to say that if the solution is aluminum – the decision has already been made according to insiders - then the Toledo assembly facility, which is the spiritual home of Jeep, would lose out to existing unibody-focused plants in other locations because the transition to aluminum construction would be cost prohibitive in Toledo.

Needless to say, this sent shock waves through the Toledo plant and the entire city, first and foremost because the plant and the city are inseparable, and secondly because the idea of the iconic Wrangler being built anywhere else was tantamount to sacrilege, at the very least.

And a lot of the shock and outrage emanated from the fact that Marchionne emphatically stated last January at the Detroit Auto Show as reported by Automotive News that FCA was “never to produce a Wrangler outside of Toledo. So whatever Wranglers are going to be made are going to be made there as long as I’m the CEO. They’ll not be built anywhere else.”

Me? I’m even shocked that anyone would be shocked by any of this. As I’ve said from the beginning, Marchionne is a carpetbagging mercenary masquerading as industry savior. Always has been and always will be, in fact. This is just Sergio being Sergio, so there should be no surprise here.

He adjusts the parameters of the discussion to suit his needs. He rails against perceived slights and injustices meted out to his vested interests at the drop of the hat, but if he needs to change those discussion parameters in midstream to suit his needs of the moment, then so be it. And those who would question his motives are deemed to be inconsequential and irrelevant, or worse.
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