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  • Stellantis will indefinitely idle its plant in Belvidere, Illinois, where the Jeep Cherokee is built, as first reported by Automotive News.
  • The company cites several reasons for the plant closure, including the COVID-19 pandemic and related supply-chain shortages.
  • There will be a short run of 2023 Cherokees, but the move suggests the SUV’s place in the Jeep lineup could either be vacant after this model year or production could move to another location.

UPDATE 12/10/2022: In an interview with Reuters, the shop chairman for United Auto Workers (UAW) union Local 1268 disclosed that company documents indicate that Cherokee production will relocate from Belvidere, Illinois to Stellantis’s plant in Toluca, Mexico.

A longtime Chrysler-FCA-Stellantis assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, will be indefinitely shut down as the company pursues options to “optimize operations,” according to a report today by Automotive News.

The Belvidere plant is currently the only manufacturing facility responsible for the production of the Jeep Cherokee SUV, which calls into question the crossover’s future. A representative from Jeep told Car and Driver that the Cherokee will remain in production at Belvidere Assembly through the end of February 2023, and the models being produced now are 2023 models. In a statement to Reuters, UAW leader Tim Ferguson said internal company documents indicate production of the Cherokee—or its replacement—will be moved to Stellantis’s manufacturing facility in Toluca, Mexico.

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“The segment is very important to us and we plan to stay committed to it long-term,” a Jeep spokesperson said when pressed on future plans for the Cherokee nameplate.

Demand for the Cherokee has fallen sharply over the past few years. In 2019, 191,397 copies found homes, while in 2020, only 135,855 were sold; in 2021, sales dwindled to 89,126. Meanwhile, Jeep dealers moved just 30,852 Cherokees in the first nine months of 2022, a fraction of the 189,727 Grand Cherokees—a more expensive and likely more profitable model—sold in the same time period.

The next compact Jeep SUV may be an EV. Jeep has detailed plans to shift to electric vehicles in recent months, including an Avenger EV for European and other global markets and a Wrangler-inspired Recon EV for North America. Time will tell, but the iconic, albeit problematic, nameplate could find itself emblazoned on the liftgate of an electric off-roader.

The plant closure will impact the nearly 1300 employees, many of which are UAW union members, when the facility is idled on February 28, 2023. According to the AN report, layoffs are likely, although reassignment to other manufacturing facilities may be a possibility for some of the plant’s workforce.

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