American Idled: Jeep Halts Production of Cherokee at Belvidere

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

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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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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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

  • 2ACL Not as bad as some have quipped, but half the appeal of a sport compact is the car on which it's based. The Ion was one of the worst in segment, blunting the outreach of GMPD's work. More marginalization hit in the form of competitors evolving into some of their most compelling interations. $8.5k? KBB tells Joe Average to aim for half that. Within the context of those specifically interested in this model, the magic words for asking more than market seem to be 'Competition Package.' If the best the seller can do in a short ad is vaguely reference aftermarket audio, they don't deserve a premium.
  • The Oracle I can’t wait to see the UAW attempt to organize the Chinese plants when they come.
  • Redapple2 They strove to excel and improve in this era ( on the cheap? ). They gave us Saturnasty and Northstarubish and the F150 grew in dependability and features over the Silveradoffal. -gm- a legacy of utter garbage.
  • Tane94 Yes and yes to both questions. GM and Fird have long used built-in-China components in their vehicles -- the GM 3.4L engines used in past SUVs being just one example. Why is the US so scared of China's manufacturing prowess? Why is the US so scared of China's ascendency to world super-power? Look at China's high speed rail network, including mag-lev trains, and then US trains. I would buy a China-built vehicle with no trepidation.
  • Theflyersfan Adding to what Posky said (and for once, I kinda agree with what he wrote), and as an auto enthusiast it kills me to think this, but why should auto makers care about enthusiasts any longer? Hear me out... It can be argued that the first real enthusiasts were those coming home from WW2, having served in Europe, and fell in love with their cars. And Detroit responded. That carried over to the Boomers and Gen X. The WW2 generation for all sakes and purposes is no longer with us. The Boomers are decreasing in number. The first years of Gen X are nearing retirement. After us (Gen X), that's when we see the love of cars tail off. That was the generation that seemed to wait to get a license, grew up with smart phones and social media, got saddled with crippling home and student debt, and just didn't have the same love that we have. They for the most part are voting on do-all CUVs. Yes, automakers throw us a bone with special models, but they tend to be very expensive, saddled with markups, high insurance rates, and sometimes rare. Looking at you Audi and Lexus. Friends of mine who currently have or have just raised teens said their kids just don't care about cars. Their world is not out in the open and enjoying the moment with the roar of the engine. It's in the world they created for themselves at their fingertips. If they want bland and an appliance, that's what will be built.