Blaming the global shortage of semiconductors and related supply chain challenges, Stellantis has announced another round of cuts at one of its factories. According to a report in the Detroit News, about 400 workers have been informed of an ‘employee reduction’ that will take effect early next calendar year.
Jobs on the block are those at the spellcheck-vexing Belvidere Assembly, a facility currently pumping out copies of the Jeep Cherokee. A total of 2,362 hourly staff work onsite, in addition to just shy of 200 salaried personnel. That’s one shift, by the way, after a second shift vanished earlier this year. That action impacted over 1,600 people. While the company said it would try to find places for laid-off hourly workers in open full-time spots at other locations, it is worth noting that Belvidere Assembly is the sole Stellantis assembly plant in the state.
Company spox made a statement talking about the need to “balance global sales with production”, a phrase that usually portends the lack of customer interest in a particular model. However, given the current supply chain mess, reduced sales don’t necessarily mean customers aren’t interested; Cherokee’s 20 percent YOY drop in sales can be at least partially attributed to the lack of chips to build the thing.
Noise has recently been made by people in key positions at Belvidere that the place will need investment in order to weather the coming transition to electric vehicles. The state recently announced a variety of tax incentives, passed as part of a bill to tempt electric vehicle makers and suppliers in their decision-making processes. Surely those in charge have their eyes on an announcement made last month that Stellantis will invest over $200 million in three of its Indiana plants to help the company reach its goal of achieving 40 percent low-emission vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.
Belvidere Assembly has a long history stretching back to 1965 when it began making Dodge and Plymouth two- and four-door models plus a few wagons for those brands. It switched to making the Omnirizon compact car for the duration of that vehicle’s run before undergoing a multi-million dollar retooling to produce the Dodge Dynasty and its various cousins. That gave way to the mid-90s Neon and its subsequent replacement models like the Caliber.
It was announced in 2016 that $350 million would be plowed into the place in preparation to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which moved from its production facility in Toledo. Cherokee production began in June 2017 and returned to a two-shift operating pattern in May 2019 before being reduced back to the aforementioned one-shift schedule in July 2021.
No changes have been announced for the nearby Belvidere Satellite Stamping Plant, a 330,000 sq. ft facility whose workforce numbers are rolled into the figures listed above.
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.