Stellantis has spent the year adjusting production at its Belvidere assembly plant to align with tanking Jeep Cherokee sales. The Illinois plant is home to the Cherokee. It has seen significant downtime this year for a combination of reasons.
Lower Jeep Cherokee sales are partially to blame for the plant shutdown
The microchip shortage that is wreaking havoc with all automakers has been one of the reasons for shutting down production. But even before that Jeep instituted stoppages because of lower Cherokee sales. This year through September sales are down a whopping 20-percent.
Belvidere cut its second shift earlier in 2019 which saw 1,400 workers laid off. It currently employs almost 2,400 assembly workers in total. And production was halted for two weeks in January 2020 due to sales falling 20-percent for 2019.
Jeep Cherokee sales have been dropping since 2019
Sales peaked in 2018 with almost 240,000 Jeep Cherokees sold. Since then sales continue to fall. In 2019 sales dropped to 191,397, and in 2020 they fell further to 135,854. Through September of this year, Jeep has sold 78,749 Cherokee models.
At the current sales pace, it looks like Cherokee sales will dip below 100,000 this year. That rounds out to a loss of almost a third of sales for 2020, which was mostly a down year due to the pandemic. While Jeep has invested plenty into an all-new Grand Cherokee the smaller Cherokee seems to be dying a slow death.
The current Cherokee made its debut in 2014. So in 2022, it will have been in production for nine years. Before that, the Cherokee had not been produced for 10 years. But Jeep saw that enthusiasts wanted a Jeep at the price point and size that became the new 2014 Cherokee. The base price is under $28,000, while the Grand Cherokee base price is almost $34,000.
Other Stellantis plants have shut down this week
Belvidere isn’t the only Stellantis plant shut down this week. According to Automotive News, the Brampton Assembly Plant in Ontario was also shut down. The Dodge Charger and Challenger, and Chrysler 300 are all made at this plant. Sales of those three cars are up in 2021. Charger and Challenger models have experienced an increase of 15-percent in 2021, while the Chrysler 300 has seen sales jump 27-percent.
“Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry,” a spokesperson told Automotive News. Stellantis also announced that the Chrysler Voyager van will only be sold to fleets in 2022, making the 300 the only model sold by Chrysler in 2022.