In December, just a few days before Christmas, Stellantis made the announcement that it would indefinitely idle production at its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, at the end of February.
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 Jeep® Cherokee (KL) – a slow seller in the current Jeep portfolio.
The facility has been producing the midsized Jeep® Cherokee (KL) as its sole product since June 1st, 2017. Before the Cherokee, the plant produced a trio of small vehicles consisting of the Jeep Patriot (MK74), Jeep Compass (MK49), and Dodge Dart (PF). Since the introduction of the globally-marketed second-generation Compass (MP), sales of the Cherokee have dropped dramatically globally. The plant went from a two-shift operating pattern in 2019 to just one in July 2021.
With the dismissal of more than 1,300 employees from the facility, the Belvidere area is “all hands on deck” doing whatever they can to sway Stellantis to stay. As the biggest source of jobs in the area, the move to vacate the Belvidere facility will have major consequences for the surrounding area. Including several of the plant suppliers.
According to information filed with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities, at least 731 employees working at seven different suppliers in Boone, Stephenson and DeKalb counties that produce parts or provide services for the Cherokee will be terminated this month. Those suppliers had already let go hundreds of employees previously, when Stellantis cut shifts at the Belvidere facility due to slow Cherokee sales, the pandemic, and continuous semiconductor shortages.
Joining forces with its union members at the plant and local officials, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union released a well documented video called “Belvidere Deserves Better”. The eleven minute, thirty second video that went live this past week, not only shows why Stellantis should rethink their decision to leave, but the repercussions of doing so. (You can watch the video in its entirely, at the top of the page)
According to some officials, a solution to help save the plant would be for Stellantis to upfit the facility to produce future electric vehicles. This can be assisted with new electric vehicle subsides the Illinois has already to put forth to automotive manufacturers to promote new business within the state.
While the current generation Cherokee will end production this month, the nameplate will continue on when the next generation model makes its debut in 2025. Multiple sources have the next generation Cherokee (codenamed KM) to be produced alongside the new Wagoneer S (KX) model at the Toluca, Mexico assembly plant.
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