The Jeep Cherokee Is Dead, Sacrificed for Future Electric Vehicle Production
It is a sad day for Jeep fans as the Cherokee SUV is no longer in production at the Stellantis Belvidere, Illinois plant. The 2023 Jeep Cherokee is dead as the production plant closes for the time being. Stellantis has not yet announced the future of the smaller Cherokee sport utility vehicle, but it did offer some solace when asked for comment.
The 2023 Jeep Cherokee is dead for now
MotorTrend reported this week that Jeep Cherokee is dead as Stellantis shut down its production plant without clear plans moving forward. While automakers are shifting to electric vehicles over the next few years, the fate of the Cherokee remains unknown.
AP reported last month that the Belvidere, Illinois, plant would be shut down, which the automaker calls put on “idle.” There are plans to convert the entire plant from producing internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles, but this process of lengthy and costly. AP says the Stellantis plenty employed 1,350 workers before going on idle.
Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, said it was looking for solutions to keep the plant producing vehicles, but the Jeep Cherokee stopped production at the end of last month and has since been without a car to build. “We need to adapt to this new world; the reality of the transformation of the market is the reality that we need to face.”
Stellantis says the Jeep Cherokee was sacrificed for future EVs
Tavares said producing electric vehicles over traditional gasoline vehicles is 40% more expensive. Stellantis said it didn’t want to pass on those expenses to consumers, so it had to absorb the costs. Sales for the Jeep Cherokee have slowed in the last few years as driver preferences shift.
Jeep cut many of the trim levels previously available on the Cherokee this year. The 2023 Jeep Cherokee Altitude Lux or the Trailhawk trim were the only options available. Jeep also cut the V6 engine from the available options. Even though the writing has been on the wall for a while, it is sad to see the Cherokee go without much hope for future models.
MotorTrend reached out to Jeep with questions about where the Cherokee might be headed. “We will make an announcement regarding the next-generation Jeep Cherokee in due course. All [existing] Jeep brand vehicles will offer an electrified variant by 2025, including four zero-emission vehicles in North America and in Europe.”
Don’t expect an announcement anytime soon
While vague, it sounds like the next-generation Jeep Cherokee will return s a hybrid or electric vehicle. Jeep was particularly impacted by the semiconductor chip shortages, which meant fewer Cherokees coming off the production line. COVID-19 complications also meant fewer workers at times.
The New York Times says Stellantis opted to stop production of the Cherokee at times to divert semiconductor chips to its more profitable vehicles. Vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickup trucks were prioritized over lower sellers. In the highly competitive segment, other compact SUVs have received significant updates in the last few years. Jeep cut trim levels and options to streamline production, but it was too little, too late, for the Cherokee.
While the Jeep Cherokee is dead for now, hopefully, it will return in some fashion in the next few years. The closing production plant is the biggest employer in Belvidere, which will significantly impact the town and community.