On Friday, it was announced that Stellantis will cut another 400 additional jobs at the company’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois. The plant manufacturers the midsized Jeep® Cherokee (KL), which has been a lackluster seller for the American adventure brand since its mid-cycle-action (MCA) in 2019. The layoffs could take place as soon as Friday, January 14th.
The plant currently employs 2,558 (2,362 hourly; 196 salaried) on one shift. A second shift was cut in July, which saw the layoffs of 1,641 employees.
“As we continue to balance global sales with [the] production of the Jeep Cherokee produced at the Belvidere (III.) Assembly Plant, which has been further exacerbated by the unprecedented global microchip shortage,” Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said, “Stellantis has determined that additional staffing actions are needed as a result of changes in the plant’s operations.”
Stellantis sent notices to employees on Wednesday about the layoffs, saying that they would try to place certain laid-off employees to open full-time positions based on seniority when they become available at other Stellantis facilities. However, the Belvidere facility is the only Stellantis operated facility in the state of Illinois.
Since the beginning of the year, AutoForecast Solutions LLC estimates that Stellantis has lost the production of about 122,000 vehicles due to the semiconductor shortage. Sales for the Cherokee are down about 20% over the same time period last year.
With the development of the next-generation Jeep Cherokee (KM) underway, it is predicted that the upcoming version could be produced in Mexico. Rumors have been circulating since earlier this year, that the Belvidere plant could be revamped to produce the next-generation Dodge Charger (LF) and Challenger (LB). This includes the all-new all-electric Dodge Challenger, scheduled to arrive in 2024.
A new bill, passed by the Illinois House and Senate last month, offers automakers incentives for electric vehicle producers and suppliers. It includes state income taxes credits (up to 100%) for all new employees that the company hires for up to 15 years, as well as other various tax credits and incentives for hiring construction employees and the training of employees. This could be majorly beneficial to Stellantis if the next vehicle to be produced at the plant is electrified.
The company moved production of the Cherokee from its Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio in 2017. The move created 300 new jobs at the time with production at the Belvidere starting on June 1st, 2017. The plant went to a second shift operating pattern back in May 2019, before being cut back to one earlier this year.
The Belvidere Assembly Plant recently resumed production earlier this month, after being idle for several months due to the semiconductor shortage.
For the time being, it looks like the Belvidere facility will continue to struggle until the plant can be revamped to assembly a new product.
Source: Detroit Free Press