DaimlerChrysler Will Not Build in Georgia

The site near I-16 and I-95.
The site near I-16 and I-95.

If you were thinking about getting a job at the new DaimlerChrysler plant, you might want to think again. The company has has announced it will not be building a Sprinter van plant in Pooler. What everyone is asking now is why, in fact, did DaimlerChrysler decide not to build here. To find the answer, we went straight to the source.

"The decision was reached by the commercial vehicle division today not to proceed with the vehicle van plant in Georgia," the company's communications director Othmar Stein said in a phone interview from DaimlerChrysler headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. He told us the decision was difficult, but necessary.

"When you look at investing this amount of money, close to $800 million to build an automotive production plant this size, you have to be 120 percent sure the market conditions are conducive to going ahead with this," Stein explained. "Unfortunately, they are not at this time and we certainly feel badly that we would have liked to go ahead, but as I said, economic conditions prevent us from going ahead."

Those conditions include:

  • The US dollar and euro fluctuation due to an unstable market
  • The North American local content implication, meaning, if a plant were built in Georgia, parts would still have to be imported from Germany at a major expense
  • Stein also cited uncertainty in the auto market under the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it is weak and unstable

We asked Stein about his feelings on the fact that the State of Georgia has invested nearly $60 million on the DaimlerChrysler site. His response was, "I think we made it very clear from the beginning that if we decided to go ahead with building this plant, it would be in the State of Georgia. But we had given no guarantee that we would make a final decision to proceed with this."

Now that Daimler Chrysler is out, Georgia, Chatham County, and the City of Pooler have to find another big business to fill the land. And hopefully next time, the outcome will be different. Many are probably wondering if the state, county, or city did anything to cause this decision. The answer, according to DaimlerChrysler is no. Othmar Stein tells us everyone here more than fulfilled their obligations to DaimlerChrysler and he even said officials here went the extra mile to make Sprinter van plant happen.

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark, ddenmark@wtoc.com