American Idled: Jeep Halts Production of Cherokee at Belvidere

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

american idled jeep halts production of cherokee at belvidere

It appears to be the end of the road for Jeep Cherokee as we know it, with Stellantis pulling the plug on Belvidere Assembly with no publicly known plan for replacement product.

The last Cherokee rolled off the line earlier this week, appearing to be an Attitude Lux trim clad in Diamond Black paint. Save for a few hastily placed mini American flags (plus a Buy American sticker) and a piece of paper noting the plant’s total production, fanfare seems to have been minimal. Idling a plant is never a great time in the life of a company, but Stellantis surely could have done a bit more to recognize these line workers – especially if this ends up being the last vehicle to ever roll out of a 58-year-old factory. The person in this photo, for example, says they have been working at Belvidere for 26 years.

Over on an unofficial Facebook page for the Belvidere plant, there are no shortage of tribute posts not just to the Cherokee but to the facility itself. The whole thing reads like an obit to an elderly relative, lending credence to rumours that Stellantis may be shutting the place down for good – at least in terms of vehicle production. Since 1965, the plant has built over 11.7 million vehicles, starting with from Plymouth and Dodge models until a switch to Omnirizon front-drivers in the late ‘70s. It started cranking out Dynasty sedans and its cousins in 1987, Neons in 1994, then members of the Caliber/Compass/Patriot family about a decade later. Cherokee production has been happening since 2016.

What’s next? Talking heads at the UAW will surely have stern questions about that, given the mother ship’s better-than-expected profit numbers during the last calendar year. Speculation is centering on a shift to Mexico, though nothing’s official. Nor is there much word on what, if anything, is going to plug the hole Cherokee leaves in the Jeep lineup. With a focus on electrification, there’s a solid chance whatever this brand has in their hopper for the compact crossover segment will have so-called ‘4xe’ gubbins in some capacity.

[Images: Jeep, Facebook]

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2 of 21 comments
  • Analoggrotto Analoggrotto on Mar 02, 2023

    This was the same piece of crap where each transmission had to be tuned manually before shipment.

  • NJRide NJRide on Mar 03, 2023

    This model really captures Stellantis' malaise. It was essentially like the Dodge Journey, an outdated model that would only sell to fleet/substantial discount

  • Probert Wow - so many digital renders - Ford, Stellantis. - whose next!!! They're really bringing it on....
  • Zerocred So many great drives:Dalton Hwy from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle.Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK. it was a multi-day ferry ride so I didn’t actually drive it, but I did take my truck.Icefields Parkway from Jasper AB to Lake Louise AB, CA.I-70 and Hwy 50 from Denver to Sacramento.Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierras.
  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.