Automaker to invest $1 billion in new plant, pay bonus after tax cut

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the latest company to make a huge investment into its workers’ community in response to President Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

The Italian-American automaker announced its plan to invest a hefty $1 billion into a Michigan truck factory and said it would pay worker bonuses in the wake of a U.S. tax cut, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune on Friday.

Fiat Chrysler announced a year ago that it would invest in its Warren, Michigan, factory to produce the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs and that the plant would be able to make the bigger Ram trucks, according to the report.

In the wake of Trump’s corporate tax cuts, the automaker has announced that it will send bonus checks of $2,000 checks to about 60,000 U.S. workers. Fiat Chrysler also will spend more than $1 billion and add 2,500 jobs in Warren as it moves production of its heavy-duty Ram pickups from Mexico back to the U.S.A.

The company’s announcement comes as Trump threatens to withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The President also has promised to cut automakers a break on fuel economy standards his administration is reviewing. He requested that they return the favor by hiring more workers.

The investment follows an impressive jump in Fiat Chrysler stock amid optimism about its product lineup being revamped with fresh trucks and sport utility vehicles, according to the report.

The company’s U.S.-listed shares have surged more than 30 percent already this year after almost doubling in 2017. The stock jumped as much as 1.6 percent in early trading Friday.

“It is only proper that our employees share in the savings generated by tax reform and that we openly acknowledge the resulting improvement in the U.S. business environment by investing in our industrial footprint accordingly,” Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.

Fiat Chrysler is re-purposing the current heavy-duty Ram factory in Saltillo, Mexico, to build commercial vehicles.

Consolidating Ram production in Michigan will help protect Fiat Chrysler against possible disruptions to Nafta. Trump reiterated a threat to pull out of the trade accord on Thursday, a day after Canadian officials said they viewed the odds of withdrawal as rising.

The investment “is a hedge by FCA against the increasing likelihood that Nafta will be dropped or renegotiated to favor manufacturing in the U.S.,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said in an email. “It’s the best news for Michigan auto workers in a long time.”

“Thank you Chrysler, a very wise decision,” Trump tweeted late Thursday. “The voters in Michigan are very happy they voted for Trump/Pence.”

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