While the Dodge brand prides itself as America’s performance brand, the truth is that its two popular muscle car offerings – the Dodge Charger and Challenger are built in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It’s been that way since Dodge and Chrysler launched the first of their rear-wheel-drive L-Series cars (the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300 Series) in 2004. But that could soon change, according to a report from Automotive News Canada.
The report indicates that Stellantis would switch the muscle car duo to a different production facility in the United States sometime next year. However, it seems unlikely since both the Dodge Charger and Challenger will be replaced in the 2024 model year, so we think it would be closer to late-2023. The beloved but forgotten Chrysler 300 Series will end production in 2023, right about the same time as the current generation Dodge Charger (LD) and Challenger (LA) stop coming off the assembly line.
Although a specific plant was not identified in the article, there is only one former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) plant located in the United States that could produce the cars currently – the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois. That plant is currently home to only one product, the slow-selling Jeep® Cherokee (KL), and has been recently updated with much of the equipment from the former 200 Series line at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan (which is now home to the Ram 1500) and the best parts of the former Toledo North Assembly Complex (which manufactured the current Cherokee until it was moved to Belvidere to make way for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (JL).
The Belvidere plant is near twice the size of the Brampton facility at 5 million square feet of floor space. Just like Brampton, the Belvidere plant has its own stamping facility and would be a perfect place to showcase the new STLA Large platform-based Dodge Charger (codenamed LF) and Challenger (codenamed LB) and their fully battery-electric vehicle (BEV) variants that are planned for release in 2024.
With the Belvidere plant being underutilized it makes sense, as rumors have also stated that Dodge will introduce a new two-row mid-sized rear-wheel-drive based UV to slot in where the Journey left off in the lineup. The vehicle itself would be more than likely based on the STLA Large architecture and would share much of the new muscle cars’ components.
As for the Jeep Cherokee, the current model is on the way out. Thanks to a similarly sized Jeep Compass, the Cherokee has become irrelevant in the current Jeep lineup. The next-generation Cherokee (codenamed KM) will more than likely be slightly bigger than the current model. We expect it to be more focused on the North American market, as Jeep is building a new Compass-based Commander (Meridian in India) three-row model to fill global demand.
The next-generation Cherokee (KM) could continue to be manufactured at the Belvidere plant alongside the Charger and Challenger if need be since all three should be on the STLA Large architecture. But if the move from Brampton happens for the muscle car duo as the Automotive News Canada article says, we expect that Brampton will receive a massive update to the plant to build more future electrified SUVs or even trucks for the core Chrysler Group brands.
The Belvidere plant has been on life support during the 2021 model year, due to constant semiconductor shortages and slow Cherokee sales across the globe.
We originally heard from our sources in January 2020, that Dodge product managers were looking at running production of the current Dodge Challenger alongside the next-generation Challenger for a few months. This would help iron out issues on the next-generation cars and continue strong sales of the nameplate while the new model would find its way into showrooms. If a transfer to another plant happens, we wouldn’t be surprised if both current and new were run for a bit, similar to vehicles like the Dodge Grand Caravan and Ram 1500 Classic have worked out.
An updated contract with the Canadian labor union, Unifor, places the L-series cars at Brampton until 2024.