Stellantis’ Decision To Stop Production In Belvidere Could Have Massive Repercussions

The City, The Workers, & The Suppliers Are "All Hands On Deck" Trying To Save The Facility...

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. 

Belvidere Assembly Plant. (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 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Possible Next-Gen Jeep® Cherokee (KM) Teased During EV Day 2021 Presentation. (Stellantis).

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.

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the 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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Tavares, Elkann. Those are the two people responsible for this.

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I commented to the folks at Belvedere over four years ago about the build quality, performance and satisfaction I had with my 2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland. Nothing over that time has changed my opinion. Not to say that I had no suggestions for bettering a very competent vehicle, but time for a new Cherokee has come and hopefully those suggestions I have made repeatedly will come to fruition, sadly, not at Belvedere. Based on the sincere and kind response I received from a line worker, I feel for these guys. Certainly their skill and dedication will lead to something to build and soon. Just not right otherwise. Pretty dumb too.
As to the Cherokee, no doubt it has established a strong following over the years and no doubt there is a viable business case for a new and more capable mid-size Jeep. I now will repeat my Cherokee” wish list” based on six years and two Cherokee ownerships. Here goes: Slightly longer producing more seating and cargo room. Slightly wider for the same reasons plus more stability. Rear Wheel drive with AWD option. Some form of electrification option but no all electric, that goes to its stablemate the Wagoneer S. Must have the Hurricane option also and a high performance version. Just two rows please and an interior that reflects the new levels of plush, comfort, and technology Jeep now produces. Lastly it must be more “Jeep” capable and not to knit pick, make its turning radius shorter and its rear door entry larger.
Manufacturers want feedback so give mine, some well earned consideration. The Cherokee must be built to be better and my brothers and sisters at Belvedere must get something to build real soon. Let’s get this whole thing going Jeep. Jeep employees and Cherokee loyalists deserve better.

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Refresh the Grand Cherokee to mimic the Wagoneer. Have a Cherokee, Cherokee L, Grand Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee L. Quit saying Wagoneer is premium and instead say Grand is premium. Replace the KL chassis with the Commander/Meridian and make it in Toluca. Yes, find something for the people in Belvidere, but another cheap small car is NOT the answer for long term stability of the plant. That plant needs something with a higher profit margin. They need to make the next gen Charger/Challenger in Belvidere and just make E.V.'s in Canada.

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THey are playing hardball with State and the Union.

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I should add the business climate in Illinois is difficult, Ford is having tons of problems with their plants in that state, and both the union and the state have made huge concessions to keep those plants open. I am sure Stalantis expect similar concessions.

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