Turns out 2023 was a little on the rocky side for Stellantis.
In the end, it was the only major auto maker to post lower—or relatively flat—U.S. sales year-over-year.
Automotive News notes that the company's 1.2-percent decline in 2023 contrasted with a 13-percent gain for the overall market. And the Jeep brand was hit the hardest. Sales fell 6.1 percent for Jeep—the brand's fifth consecutive drop after nearly surpassing 1 million sales in 2018. Ram sales fell 1 percent.
One reason for that? The United Auto Workers strike.
Shortly after Sean Fain was elected president of the UAW in March 2023, Stewart discussed the auto maker-union relationship with Butters.
"The hand-in-hand partnership that we have had with the UAW, from being quite the underdog to being a force to be reckoned with in a very humble way, a very proud way, we had done that working together," he said of both the auto maker and the union. "And we are very confident we are going to find ways to do that. … We have got to be viable together. We win together. That is how we do it."
That prediction was put to the test about five months later, when the UAW launched its multi-faceted strike against Stellantis, Ford and GM.
Ultimately, Stellantis and the UAW reached a tentative labor contract agreement Oct. 28 that included a 25-percent raise for workers over the life of the pact, a commitment to revive the idled Belvidere Assembly plant in Illinois and nearly $19 billion in new U.S. investments. The union ratified the deal in mid-November.
The two-month strike turned quite contentious and union leaders heavily criticized Stellantis as stubborn and stingy. But Stewart was quick "to get the record straight" and defend the auto maker's proposals.
"We've got to have a viable industry for the Big Three," Stewart said. "At the end of the day, we have to be able to compete against the non-union competitors here in the U.S.—be it Tesla who is already at a much lower cost structure to us, be it the transplants."