Jeep Idles Cherokee Production At Illinois Assembly Plant To Deal With Inventory Backlog, Slowing Sales

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley with the 2019 Jeep Cherokee. [Photos: FCA]

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will idle its plant in Belvidere, Illinois for two weeks as of January 13, the company announced Thursday. It currently assembles the Jeep Cherokee at that plant. The closure is necessary because of slowing sales and excess inventory as 2019 drew to a close.

With $350 million invested in the plant, Cherokee production began at Belvidere in June of 2017. Recently, the United Auto Workers (UAW) struck a new contract with FCA, including striking a deal for building the revised Cherokee. This is a $55 million investment in the factory to produce the next-generation model.

Starting Monday, January 13th – the plant will stop production until January 27th. Part of the issue stems from slow sales, as the Cherokee fell off after enjoying a sales boom in the wake of increased demand for crossovers. The Jeep Cherokee sales numbers dropped from 20 percent, or 239,437 units, in 2018 to 191,397 units in 2019.

With new crossovers coming out from Ford, Hyundai/Kia and sales for the Toyota RAV4 along with the Honda CR-V remaining strong, the Jeep Cherokee’s sales are floundering. As an example, the Toyota RAV4 led sales in 2019 with nearly 450,000 vehicles sold in the United States. 

According to an Automotive News report, there were 53,000 Cherokees in inventory as of January 1. Currently, that amounts to a 97-day supply, up from a 91-day supply on December 1, 2019.

More on the Jeep Cherokee 

With a solid reputation for off-road capability the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is still one of their more popular models among fans. While other automakers are offering more options such as hybrids and more luxurious appointments, the Jeep Cherokee banks on its pedigree for sales.