Goodbye, Cherokee: Belvidere plant being idled “indefinitely”

Earlier this year, Stellpower noted that the Cherokee would be leaving in mid-2023. It seems mid-2023 is coming early this year, with Stellantis choosing to idle the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois on February 28, 2023. That is the only factory making Cherokees—and Cherokees are all the factory makes.

Belvidere plant

The news was just reported by Automotive News’ Michael Martinez. The UAW’s president, Ray Curry, said the move was “grossly misguided,” according to Martinez.

The company blamed the problem on multiple factors, including COVID-19, the microchip shortage, and electrification. Workers are being laid off indefinitely but can be placed in other positions.

Many expected the plant to be upgraded to make new electric vehicles, partly because of an Illinois law which provides hefty tax benefits for BEV plants. The company would have to leave the plant idle for a time to take advantage of this, according to one industry observer. The rumor mill has been rife with questions about the Cherokee’s replacement, given how close it is to the upgraded Compass.

2022 jeep cherokee latitude lux

The company sold 89,126 Cherokees in 2021, down from 135,855 in 2020; through the end of September, Jeep sold just 30,852 Cherokees. (All figures are U.S. sales only; Canadian sales tend to add around 10%. The Cherokee had minimal sales in other parts of the world.)

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I am one of the thousands of employees who has been indefinitely laid off from Belvidere Assembly Plant. For over 2 years now, we have watched our membership go from over 5,000 to now around 1,000 left in the plant. My seniority date is 2/20/12. I was laid off last November, and transferred in April 2022 to NY Mopar Plant UAW Local 3039. Big difference between the 2! We were all faced with the option to either transfer(sometimes across country like myself), or deny transfer and lose all benefits with only having call back rights to BVP if they ever get product and running again(also depending on the number of open spots which will go by seniority). It’s very sad to see what has became of their Top Quality plant and workforce. Praying for my brothers and sisters left in there. Not knowing what your immediate future looks like is very scary and sad. This new company is cut throat. We are only numbers to them, with no care or concern for the members that make it all possible. You can tell it’s contract time!

This is the new normal, your not alone, large corporations are impersonal, bureaucratic, profit driven and soulless. I’ve seen folks recently, after years of loyalty and untold hours of hard work tossed aside like discarded trash. Perks, socialization among colleagues and tokens of appreciation are gone. Woke culture, diversity, equity, psycho babble and other social engineering policies dominate a work environment that is oppressive, even fearful. Global industry has become nothing more than a sterile grind in a near robotic world that sucks the life out of people and enriches the few.
Just like the corporate title “Stellantis”, the whole thing is theater, smoke and mirrors, empty. Humanity as well as industry has lost its way. Sad.

We’ve owned a 2015 Cherokee Limited for the past three years. The best I can say about the car is “meh.” I don’t know why it needed its very own V6. The styling is highly questionable, especially the cars produced in the first few years. When they upgraded the Compass, they should have discontinued the Cherokee, in my opinion. The KL Cherokee simply does not live up to the name the XJ wore; it is not nearly as rugged a vehicle nor as capable even in TrailHawk trim.

My wife likes it for some reason. I can’t say why.

Dave, could you maybe write a post about how the Illinois EV production plant laws work (or repost if I missed it in the past)? That’s obviously NOT something the company can discuss. Even if there is product planned for Belvidere, it’s not likely they could announce those specifics currently, the any post would need to clearly identify much of it as speculation. But the long-term possibilities are intriguing, given all the production changes currently occurring all over the the product line and across the entire system.

Topics that would be interesting would how the tax incentives work, whether there’s additional benefit in average labor costs (by getting many senior employees to retire, because they won’t want to transfer to distant factories), and possibly by cutting the number of employees needed (I’ve heard EV factories require less labor–is that actually true)?

In the meantime, my heart goes out to all the families impacted in the near-term…

The tax breaks don’t go into until 2025!!!

Lots of different opinions. Well here’s my $.02: Stellantis needs to trim the fat on this brand. Cut the trim levels on ALL models, kill the Fiat Renegade, Cherokee (already done), Grand Cherokee (Three Row) and ALL Grand Wagoneer trims (nobody’s going to spend $118K+ for this crap). As far as the Gladiator, give it another year or two to see if it starts to sell. Again ONLY my $.02 so no hate mail, please.

Why not get hate mail for the crap you just said? You just literally said for Jeep to stop everything that is profitable for them. You say no one is going to buy the crap, yet I see it everywhere. Someone must be buying it! Instead of quitting the Grand Cherokee L, how about just quit the Durango instead. That would have been a far better statement. If the Renegade is Fiat, it is also GM as SUSW was derived from a GM/Fiat joint venture. And last but not least, the fat is being trimmed, but out of the FCA US brands the fat isn’t in Jeep. Why do you think the LX cars are disappearing? If Stellantis has anymore fat to trim, it’s all of the repetitive small car brands from Europe.

Because hate mail is not called for. The man expressed an opinion about a car company’s products. He didn’t attack anyone personally, nor did he even use foul language/

This isn’t the place for that sort of behavior.

You might need to fix the reply button if you are a moderator, Geoff. Someone is using my name AND email for Joshua Lee because this website puts the information of the last commenter in the boxes below. Example: your email is [withheld]. How did I know that? The same reason someone is posting crap under my name! I didn’t post that crap about tax breaks. I’m even going to post this under your name, so if you are a moderator you can see what I’m saying and fix this. I don’t want everyone knowing my email address and posting stuff under my name.

Honestly, I’d love to see the return of the Cherokee Chief. An STLA large platform version of the 1975 vehicle that would be 100% EV and basically the standard length version of the Grand Cherokee while the Grand Cherokee would be the “L” version and be completely EV. Seperate the two vehicles by powertrains with the Cherokee having the 400V system while the Grand Cherokee would have the 800V and then do the same with the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, giving the Wagoneer the 400V system and the Grand Wagoneer the 800V system. The Jeep Brand also needs a full size pickup truck. The Gladiator would still be a great name for a Jeep pickup truck, but this time making it grow to a full size truck (even if it retains alot of it’s wrangler-based appearance), this time, putting it on a STLA-frame platform with an 800V powertrain and keeping it more of a trail & dirt vehicle than some dune racer. Bringing the Recon in to slot under the aforementioned vehicles would be a great move and keep that as the smallest Jeep, besides the Wrangler, which should definitely move to full EV.

The amazing thing about the Mopar branch of the Stellantis Auto group is that it can not only “Save the muscle car” the Mopar branch can save the enthusiast group, the performance aftermarket and all of that even if the brand never sells another ICE powered vehicle ever again. The reason it can do that is because not only is it a mainstream brand, the majority of Mopar vehicles are enthusiast focused. Unlike the other two American brands, and now Tesla, Mopar is a brand of passion and performance. Let’s just say for a moment that the big heads of Stellantis read what I wrote above and said, you know what, that’s genius, that is the new direction of Jeep, we’re going to do it. Jeep comes out with that lineup from above and continues to offer all of those crazy Jeep off-road packages and all kinds of cool Jeep stuff under a “Jeep” brand aftermarket named JXP or “Jeep Xtreme Performance” Throw that kind of stuff in along with a few performance packages like what Direct Connection will be offering for the new upcoming EV performance vehicles. Guess what? You now have a following. Now you have that and lets say the brand gets really smart and says “Hey you know what? we’re going to add some “Authorized” aftermarket stuff in our JXP catalogs from some repuatable aftermarket companies that have been helping our customers customize their vehicles for years.” Boom, we now have a symbiotic relationship with the aftermarket which keeps the aftermarket alive and still keeps enthusiasts happy all while being EVs. Genius! I know! But wait, there’s more! Mopar still has three other branches under it’s umbrella including that amazing lineup of oh so perfect american muscle cars known as DODGE!!!! The Dodge brand has been crushing the market for the last almost 20 years with SRT vehicles that have stolen the show when it comes to all out genuine raw honest to goodness home grown American Muscle and it has been the best run of muscle cars since the muscle car was born!!! The Dodge Brand has more than enough Muscle car names to go around and what I love about the brand is that even at this point of the EV takeover, they are not disrespecting their heritage by making a “Mach-E” style vehicle and calling it a Charger. They are doing their best to blend past present and future together into something that has the potential to be awesome. Dodge could easily keep the Charger a big-boy coupe like the Banshee model and bring back the Coronet nameplate and have a “Coronet” Family of vehicles since the Coronet was offered in a coupe, sedan and wagon. Honestly with the Durango possibly moving to a STLA-Frame vehicle, an STLA-large performance crossover/SUV that had all of the looks of a Coronet Wagon with 400V and 800V powertrains including Banshee level performance, allowing the Charger to continue with the Daytona names while the Coronet perofmrance crossover/SUV would bear the Super Bee name could and should be something we could all live with. Seeing that the Charger and Coronet were actually stablemates back in the ’60’s and ’70’s sharing almost everything, it would make sense for the Coronet to take the place of the current Durango which has been dubbed “the charger of the SUV world.” The brand is also bringing back the GHL cars with the Hornet. Not sure if this is the STLA-Medium platform but it should also mark the return of the Dodge Dart with GT, GTS and GLH trims, both being completely electric. The Dart would rival cars like the Telsa Model-3 but still offering the performance edge and a Dodge-level interior. With a brand that’s geared for performance, the Big heads at Dodge should again load the direct connection catalog with tons of aftermarket performance and styling parts for these new vehicles along with forming relationships with certain aftermarket companies as well to give their enthusiast customers choices on how to upgrade and customize their EV Dodge Performance machines. Also if the Durango is going to be a full size SUV and be body on frame, then there should be two variants, the Durango and the Durango Ramcharger, which would be the larger of the two and yes the Durango Ramcharger should be based on the Ram TRX. Honestly even with an 800V system, it’s time to let the Ford Raptor go play in it’s Sandbox like a little kid while the Ram vehicles should be the performance all terrain leaders in the woods and in the dirt, while the Jeep brand conquers the rocks and super hard trails. Dodge also needs to bring back the Viper, which could actually take the place of the Challenger with a massive 800V system and that racecar for the street personality, but this time, more practical with corvette level affordability. The Ram brand needs the Dakota back and definitely 100% EV. the Brand also needs a few street performance turcks with some Direct Connection stuff in both a new Dakota and a Ram 1500-series. The Rebel & TRX need to continue in the EV world and they should be loud! honestly if it’s a Dodge or Ram, it should be loud. If it’s a performance Jeep EV, it should be loud, if its a performane Chrysler, it should be loud. Same thing with the Chrylser Brand. The STLA-Large Chrysler 300K coupe should make it’s return alongside the Airflow crossover, a Chrysler Imperial STLA-Frame full-size SUV that can battle SUVs such as the Bentley Bentayga and the Rolls Royce Cullinan, the Chrysler Lebaron mid-size STLA-large SUV and lastly a Chrysler 300M full luxury EV sedan to rival the 7-series BMW sedan with the performance variants being the “Red-S” badge vehicles with a Chrysler version of Direct Connection for all of the performance and cosmetic upgrades. This is how you take the EV world and make it MOPAR!

LIke so many Mopar fans, myself included, you have many good ideas. A point I made online was that with the Stellantis merger is that our beloved brands have the financial, engineering and marketing resources, not doable in the past, to bring lots of new product to the market. I’m sure many of my wish list products are blowing in the wind, but many ideas floated have some possibilities.
A Cherokee replacement is a definite, but a Chrysler 300 a stretch, but I see both being necessary, my take. Point here is that we Mopar dreamers should keep our spirits up since the name of the game is niche products and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram have just scratched to surface on “NEW”. Keep dreaming guys, New is on the way for sure.

One hell of a rant, bud…

My Sources have To me that Trenton Engine North has Quit Making the 3.2L V-6 Pentastar a Week Ago. It was the Only Plant Making the 3.3L V-6. It was Made in the Old North Plant.
It’s Normal for the Engine Plant to Build Out Long Before the Assembly Plant Goes Down.
The Trenton Engine Complex has had a Lay-Off Also.
Everyone Laid-Off Was Offered Jobs at Toledo Assembly Plant or at the Detroit Assembly Complex – Mack.
Trenton Engine Laid-Off Back to 2013 Seniority. In the Machining Departments you have to have at Least 1993 Seniority. They are Making Both Versions of the 3.6L Pentstar Engines
( PUG & Classic) in the South Plant.

So when does the classic die out? The only models using the classic 3.6 are the 300, Charger, Challenger, and Ram 1500 Classic. We all know what’s happening to the cars, but how about the Ram 1500 Classic? Is it dying when the new Ram 1500 gets a refresh? When would that be, 2024 model year?

I have heard that the DS Ram Classic is coming to an end when the DT truck is refreshed.

I’m devastated. Have leased/driven Cherokee’s since 2014 and have become very attached to them. Just the right size and configuration for me. Compass just doesn’t do it for me.
Being a Chrysler retiree, I just can’t imagine leasing a competitive manufacturer’s product.

Here is what Jeep should imagine; bringing the Commander/Meridian to the U.S. to replace the FWD Cherokee. Then, start calling non luxury trims of the current Grand Cherokee just plain Cherokee. Let the luxury versions be called Grand Cherokee only. So, a Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Cherokee L, and Grand Cherokee L. The Cherokee name would be on RWD again, the nomenclature of the Wagoneer would carry through the brand, and the FWD compact sigment would be filled with a better vehicle than the outgoing model. See how that could work out so easily, Jeep?

One more thing, they could make the Commander/Meridian alongside the Compass in Mexico, and make all future battery electrics in Belvidere.

On our second Cherokee too, the first being a 2017 Overland and second being a 2022 Limited Elite. Just the right size, everything very intuitive and great power from the 3.2 V6. Hate to see it go.

Being a satisfied two Cherokee owner for seven years I knew clearly a whole new Cherokee was needed to distinguish the Cherokee from the too similar Compass and to upgrade the size and capability of this Jeep. In essence I see a last generation Grand Cherokee, size and RWD driveline formula as the best target for a next generation Cherokee especially since that niche still has appeal after the new Grand Cherokee left for greener pastures. The Cherokee is a good vehicle, I like it, but it needs some reconfiguration, some upscale interior design and some more “Jeepness” and less “Compassness”. There has to be a way to shrink the new Grand Cherokee two row to make the next generation Cherokee all it can be to get its sales back and open some space between it and Compass. Nothing wrong with Cherokee that some creative thinking could not grow it market share.