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Stellantis Lays Off 150 Employees From Its Belvidere Assembly Plant:

Decreased Global Demand, Is Reason Behind Move...

Stellantis has announced that it has indefinitely laid off 150 employees at its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois earlier this week. The plant currently produces the midsized Jeep® Cherokee SUV, which has had several pauses in production recently due to decreased global demand and semiconductor chip shortages which have plagued the entire automotive industry going into 2021.

Exterior Shot of the Belvidere Assembly Plant. (Jeep).

“The Stellantis plant in Belvidere, Illinois, is rebalancing its staffing levels as it realigns production to meet global demand for the Jeep Cherokee. Following a review of its operations, 150 people will be indefinitely laid off, starting Feb. 20, 2021. The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid-off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority,” a Stellantis spokeswoman to the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday.

The Cherokee has had a decrease of about 19% decrease in sales since 2018 when the Jeep brand launched an updated mid-cycle action (MCA) on the Jeep Cherokee (KL) platform. The styling refresh brought forth a 17.4% increase in 2018 over the following year. 

An idled Belvidere Assembly Plant during the pandemic closure in 2020. (Jeep).

The Cherokee is the Belvidere Assembly Plant’s only product, currently. Production of the Jeep Cherokee (KL) was moved from Toledo, Ohio to the Belvidere plant back in 2017 after a $350 million to retool the Illinois facility in order to manufacture the then-upcoming Jeep Wrangler (JL) on the northern end of the Toledo Assembly Complex.

Many people have questioned why there has not been an additional product added to the Belvidere plant, considering the plant manufactured the Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, and Dodge Dart back in 2016. The Belvidere plant is not the only global plant to produce Cherokee models. In a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), the Cherokee is produced in Changsha, China. There it is produced alongside the pre-MCA Cherokee dubbed as the “Cherokee Classic”, and the China-exclusive three-row Grand Commander (K8).

China-Spec 2021 Jeep® Grand Commander Summit. (Jeep).

The Grand Commander which is offered as a slightly longer three-row variant of the Cherokee platform is more focused as an urban SUV than a “Trail Rated” oriented model. The Grand Commander offers a two-row plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variant, needed for the growing electric vehicle regulations in the Chinese market due to emissions pollution.

Jeep’s Grand Commander offerings would have been a great addition to the Chrysler lineup in the North American market, as the brand needs a much-needed SUV offering to remain competitive against other automakers.

Jeep® Cherokee Deserthawk Patient Drawing. (USPTO).

There has no word on the status of the highly-anticipated Jeep Cherokee Deserthawk, another “Desert-Rated” model for the lineup. The vehicle made its one and only appearance during a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) investor meeting in 2018. Since then, the patent drawings for the Cherokee Deserthawk have been updated to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, despite no official announcement from the company.

With the sixth-generation Cherokee already in development (codenamed KM), we hope Jeep can bring a product more balanced for the global market despite having the new three-row Jeep (598) appearing in the Brazilian and Indian markets.

Stellantis, then FCA, laid off over 1,300 employees at the Belvidere Assembly Plant back in May of 2019 due to a cutback in global demand for the midsized SUV. Updated United Auto Workers (UAW) contracts in late 2019, stated “fresh models/features off of current (KL) platform”, were coming.

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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How many RAV4s did Toyota sell in the US last year? How about the Chevy Equinox?

The Jeep Cherokee needs a serious update under the hood to be competitive again. It also needs to stop being a fleet queen. The strange thing is the competitive makes don't really have all that great of a powertrain either. The Atkinson cycle four in the RAV4 bucks and surges, while the tiny turbo four in the Chevy can be tepid at times. I guess what Stellantis needs to do is seriously decide what kind of vehicle their D-segment Jeep needs to be. Right now all they are doing is digging themselves into a deeper hole.

Should a bad Jeep displace a good Chrysler or Dodge on the production line? There is no doubt the contemporary sedan concept is dead. A Chrysler branded vehicle styled after the AR Kamel concept with the 200 sedan drivetrain would have been a good replacement for the 200 sedan at Belevidere. Well that can't happen anymore, because there is only one chance to cash in on opportunity costs. FCA bet the plant on all Jeep Cherokees.

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How many RAV4s did Toyota sell in the US last year? How about the Chevy Equinox?

The Jeep Cherokee needs a serious update under the hood to be competitive again. It also needs to stop being a fleet queen. The strange thing is the competitive makes don't really have all that great of a powertrain either. The Atkinson cycle four in the RAV4 bucks and surges, while the tiny turbo four in the Chevy can be tepid at times. I guess what Stellantis needs to do is seriously decide what kind of vehicle their D-segment Jeep needs to be. Right now all they are doing is digging themselves into a deeper hole.

Should a bad Jeep displace a good Chrysler or Dodge on the production line? There is no doubt the contemporary sedan concept is dead. A Chrysler branded vehicle styled after the AR Kamel concept with the 200 sedan drivetrain would have been a good replacement for the 200 sedan at Belevidere. Well that can't happen anymore, because there is only one chance to cash in on opportunity costs. FCA bet the plant on all Jeep Cherokees.

Was the Chrysler 200 also able to be produced in the Belevedere plant - but they decided to not jeopardize the profitable KL with those logistics?

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I am just assuming the they could also build the the 200 where the Dart was because both cars were on the same platform and very close in size. The Dart, 200, and Jeep Cherokee are all on CUSW platform.

The decision to drop the sedans was the proper one to make, with the market collapsing. Not having a Chrysler or Dodge branded crossover vehicle to replace those sedans is probably a mistake. There was the ancient Journey, but it didn't fit in Belvidere. The only vehicle occupying Belvidere is the Cherokee and that model has a very wide price range. In a perfect world the lower end trims would be covered by another brand to preserve the value of the Jeep. I just think there wasn't any money for it.

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There is a part shortage and they are going to start make the transition to the KM.

How did that descend into a Dodge and Chrysler need product discussion again.

You all need to buckle up because in the last 90 days all sorts of bad things are happening in the supply chain. More shortages are on the way.

And yes Toyota has large capacity, quit equating sales with success without considering capacity.

Resin manufacturers are saying half in the next couple months. Good luck making cars with half the resin for interior and exterior components.

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There is a part shortage and they are going to start make the transition to the KM.

How did that descend into a Dodge and Chrysler need product discussion again.

You all need to buckle up because in the last 90 days all sorts of bad things are happening in the supply chain. More shortages are on the way.

And yes Toyota has large capacity, quit equating sales with success without considering capacity.

Resin manufacturers are saying half in the next couple months. Good luck making cars with half the resin for interior and exterior components.

What is KM?? Is this a new platform?

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