Two weeks ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced their plans to expand production at five of their Metro Detroit plants with a $4.5 billion investment, which would bring an additional 6,500 jobs to the region. While it is good news to the people of the State of Michigan and the city of Detroit, FCA could be laying off up to 1,371 workers from its Belvidere Assembly Plant by May 2nd.
Currently the Belvidere Assembly Plant is home to the Jeep Cherokee (KL) and a workforce of over 5,400 employees. While the Cherokee has had sales success in Canada and the United States, global sales for the midsize SUV has dropped due to a poor global economy. While the Cherokee is built in Belvidere, it is also built alongside the Grand Commander and Commander in Changsha, China in a partnership with GAC due to Chinese tariff laws.
We talked about FCA’s plans to reboot the Chrysler brand into a mainstream brand and with an SUV, Crossover and Pickup dominated market, a midsize 7-passenger Chrysler crossover could be the key to helping the Belvidere plant. Currently the Belvidere Assembly Plant only one of two plants building one product (the other being Toledo South, which is getting ready to launch the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator midsize pickup).
The Jeep Commander and Grand Commander (K8) again ride on the same CUSW (Compact U.S. Wide)-based platform as the Cherokee (KL), but with a longer wheelbase. Both are powered by the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder (with two different outputs) and 9-speed automatic, just like the one in the Cherokee. While the Commander and Grand Commander are more urban Jeeps, they do not offer an off-road variant, but instead use the four-wheel drive systems found in the Cherokee Sport and Latitude models.
While the aging Dodge Journey still is a hot seller thanks to its value, manufacturers are launching more SUVs/Crossovers than ever. Jeep recently announced that it will be launch a new E-segment three-row SUV based on the bigger next-generation Grand Cherokee (WL) platform, as well as launching the F-segment full-size Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer (WS) models within the next couple of years. Chevrolet has recently launched its new Blazer crossover, while Ford Motor Company is revamping its lineup to include a new electric crossover. A Chrysler three-row midsize crossover, could be a big hit here in North America if priced affordably.