Jeep Cherokee’s Future Now Hanging in the Balance

Stellantis has confirmed to several U.S. media outlets that the Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant will be indefinitely put on idle at the end of February. This is where the Jeep Cherokee has been manufactured since 2017.

In an official statement shared by Automotive News, the automaker pointed to a multitude of factors like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the global microchip shortage, but claimed the most impactful challenge is the increasing cost related to the electrification of the automotive market."

"Stellantis has taken a number of actions to stabilize production and improve efficiency at its North American facilities to preserve affordability and customer satisfaction in terms of quality,” Stellantis said. “While it considers other avenues to optimize operations, Stellantis has made the decision to idle the Belvidere Assembly plant effective Feb. 28, 2023."

The automaker added that it is working to "identify other opportunities to repurpose the Belvidere facility." The 1,350 employees at the site will be indefinitely laid off, with some of them being relocated to other positions as they become available. Stellantis and the United Auto Workers will need to work out a new collective bargaining agreement in 2023.

Now, What About the Cherokee?

Stellantis doesn’t have any more details to share at this point, which leaves many questions unanswered about the future of the Jeep Cherokee. For the record, the units being produced now are 2023 models.

Photo: Jeep

A UAW leader has told Reuters that production of the compact SUV—or its replacement—will be moved to Stellantis' manufacturing facility in Toluca, Mexico according to internal company documents.

While the current-generation Cherokee dates back to 2014 and North American sales are down significantly (including a 53-percent drop in the U.S. from 2019 to 2021 and 56 percent in Canada during the first half of 2022), it would be shocking if Jeep departed the segment.

On the other hand, the company has the slightly smaller Compass, which is fresh from a major upgrade and now gets standard all-wheel drive along with a more powerful engine.

Also, remember that Jeep plans to launch four fully electric models in North America and Europe by the end of 2025. The Avenger will kick things off across the Atlantic. On this side of the pond, the Jeep Recon will debut next year and production will start in 2024. Customers will be able to make a reservation in early 2023. It’s the same thing with the production variant of the Wagoneer S concept.

Watch: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland Review

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