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All Hands Are On Deck Trying To Save Belvidere Assembly Plant

State of Illinois Puts Forth Undisclosed Plan To Stellantis...

The State of Illinois has submitted a proposal to save the future of the Stellantis Belvidere Assembly Plant. Last month, Stellantis announced its plans to indefinitely idle its Illinois-based plant, which currently manufactures the midsize Jeep® Cherokee (KL) with a current workforce of 1,219 employees.

A Belvidere Assembly Employee Installs Interior Parts On A Jeep® Cherokee. (Stellantis).

The 5 million-square-foot facility about 70 miles northwest of Chicago, has continued to be the hardest hit Stellantis plant in North America during the semiconductor crisis and currently only manufactures the Cherokee – a slow seller in the current Jeep portfolio. 

The move came before the current three-year labor agreement between the automaker and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is scheduled to end in September. Stellantis has said that it intends to idle the Belvidere site officially on Tuesday, February 28th.

Jeep® Cherokee Production At The Belvidere Assembly Plant. (Stellantis).

Stellantis has said all options are being considered for the future of the Belvidere plant and “that the company is working to identify other opportunities to repurpose the Belvidere facility.”

With a new battery-electric vehicle (BEV) lineup that includes the new midsize Jeep Recon (EJ) and midsized yet-to-be-officially-named Wagoneer S (KX), many thought those products would be produced at the Belvidere site. According to AutoForecast, the upcoming Jeep Recon and Wagoneer S will be built alongside the next-generation Jeep Cherokee (KM) at the Stellantis Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico.

UAW/FCA workers use skillets to “marry” the chassis to the body of a Jeep® Cherokee at the Belvidere Assembly Plant. (Stellantis).

Sources have said that the State of Illinois is using the federal Inflation Reduction Act which includes tax incentives for companies like Stellantis to produce electric vehicles in the U.S. and the Illinois Reimaging Electric Vehicles Act which gives tax incentives for companies to convert factories for electric vehicle (EV) production.

It would be a huge potential loss for any additional future production if Stellantis walks away from the Belvidere complex. Not only does the Belvidere complex include the assembly plant, but it does have a 330,000-square-foot stamping plant which consists of 3 automatic transfer presses, 1 tandem press line, 1 automatic blanking line, and 50 unique die sets.

The plant would be perfect for something like a future midsized pickup. Are you listening Stellantis?

Belvidere History – 

The Belvidere facility was constructed in 1964 and 1965 and produced its first vehicle on July 7th, 1965. The first cars produced there from 1965 to 1977 included the Plymouth and Dodge two-door and four-door models, station wagons, and the Chrysler Town & Country station wagon (C-Body). In 1977, the plant was converted to front-wheel drive (FWD) production. From 1978 to 1987, the product lines included Plymouth Horizon Horizon TC3 (LM) and Dodge Omni, Dodge Rampage, and Dodge Charger (LZ).

1986 Dodge Shelby Omni GHLS. (Bring A Trailer).

In 1987, the plant underwent a $367-million, state-of-the-art, 16-week model changeover to produce the Chrysler New Yorker (ET) and Dodge Dynasty (CD), the company’s full-size, FWD, four-door sedans. Two years later, the plant underwent a $72-million model changeover for the production of 1990 models that included the Chrysler Imperial and New Yorker Salon (AY).

In 1994, the plant was converted to produce the Plymouth and Dodge Neon (PL). Production of the Neon ended in September 2005. The Dodge Caliber (PM) was launched in December 2005, followed by the Jeep Compass (MK49) in May 2006 and Jeep Patriot (MK74) in December 2006. The last Dodge Caliber rolled off the line on December 19th, 2011. Production of the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot ended on December 23rd, 2016. 

2012 Dodge Caliber SXT. (Dodge).

In October 2010, the automaker announced that it would invest $600 million to support the production of future models in 2012. The investment included the construction of a 638,000-square-foot body shop, as well as the installation of new machinery, tooling, and material handling equipment. On February 2nd, 2012, the automaker announced that the original $600 million investment had increased to $700 million and that the plant would add 1,800 jobs by the Q3 of 2012, which included nearly 500 for production of the all-new Dodge Dart (PF). The 3-2-120 operating pattern — three crews working four 10-hour days on two shifts for 120 production hours per week — was implemented on July 23rd, 2012.

2016 Dodge Dart Limited. (Dodge).

Production of the Dart began on April 30th, 2012, and ended on Oct. 4th, 2016.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on July 14th, 2016, that it would invest $350 million in Belvidere Assembly to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which will move from its current production location in Toledo, Ohio, in 2017 and create approximately 300 new jobs. Cherokee production began on June 1st, 2017. The plant returned to a two-shift operating pattern on May 6th, 2019. On July 26th, 2021, the plant began operating on one shift.

Source: Rockford Register Star

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only a Co-Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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