* Crain’s takes a look at the big picture…
Between 1979 and 2011, carmakers and their suppliers closed 267 plants across the U.S., according to a Center for Automotive Research study. Almost two-thirds of them were in the Midwest, and 42 percent of the closures occurred between 2004 and 2010, when the Great Recession bankrupted General Motors and Chrysler.
While Wisconsin no longer has a single car factory and Missouri is down to two, Illinois had managed to avoid the industry’s retrenchment. But the geography of production continues to evolve. Even as they’ve cut labor costs, the traditional domestic producers are losing market share in North America to rivals based overseas, driving them, in some cases, to move jobs and increase investments in Mexico, a rising auto-industry powerhouse. […]
Ford’s Torrence Avenue assembly plant, however, is humming along thanks to the popularity of the Explorer. In 2014, the factory produced 284,993 of the sport-utility vehicles, boosting total production at the facility 4.3 percent to 366,672 vehicles, according to the Automotive News data. The factory also produces Taurus cars and police Interceptors but is losing the Lincoln MKS. […]
In Belvidere, nearly 4,500 Fiat Chrysler employees made 348,552 vehicles last year, an increase of 7.2 percent from 2013 and a number that surpassed the previous peak eight years ago. The London-based company’s Jeep Compass and Patriot brands accounted for about three-quarters of the activity, with the Dodge Dart making up the remainder. […]
Though Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford has shifted some jobs back to the U.S., more recently the company said it will take production of its Focus compact car from Michigan and invest $2.5 billion to build engine and transmission factories in Mexico.
As long as automakers and other manufacturers prize squeezing workers over everything else, we’re always gonna be faced with a big problem here. And so is every other state.