Chrysler has announced that it's closing its Pacifica Advance Product Design Center in Carlsbad, California and will consolidate the Advance Design function at its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Now, news from the automakers is usually made available to journalists on media-specific Web sites during business hours, with lots of quotes that we can use to beef up the story, and photos if they're available. This little tidbit came as a very low-key email, and with the same terse message posted not on Chrysler's media Web site, but on a blog that it reserves as a chattier version for the press. No quotes, no photos, not even an attribution -- just "by Editor". And it arrived late on a Friday night.
Methinks they don't want us to say too much about it.
The email said that the function will be consolidated with Michigan, but the last paragraph reads, These changes set the stage for Chrysler's future global growth efforts, which also include our intent to establish global expertise in design, engineering and sourcing through centers of excellence. These actions will help the Company meet its long-term globlization goals.
Translation: we're going to find a place that'll make the cars for cheap.
It's not new, of course. GM's been doing it for a long time -- you want to get a deer in the headlights look, go up to half the people driving Chevrolet Aveos (bonus points if they've got a "Buy Domestic" license plate frame) and ask them if they know their cars are built in Korea. Rather tellingly, GM built three new subcompact concepts and had the public vote on which one it should build. One was designed in the U.S. The winner, announced at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show, was designed in India. Hmmm. I wonder where the actual car will be built, and if that has any bearing on how that particular design was chosen.
Y'know, in the grand scheme of things, I do have a bit of a handle on how corporations work. Even if I don't like it, I understand why companies move production offshore, whether it's cars or clothes or call centres.
I just wish everyone would be honest, instead of coating it all in bafflegab. Come clean with us: it costs too much money to design a car in California, so we're closing that office and we'll be contracting the work overseas. Will the public like it? Of course not. But I think John Q. Public would have more respect for a company that tells him up front what it's doing, instead of sneaking out the back door in the middle of the night.