FCA’s Jeep Cherokee plant in Ill. to be idled 2 weeks

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Belvidere assembly plant near Chicago will be temporarily idled for two weeks starting Monday as the company aligns production with demand.

Normal output at the factory, which assembles the Jeep Cherokee, will resume the week of Jan. 27, the company said Thursday.

U.S. sales of the Cherokee, Jeep’s No. 3 seller after the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, fell 20 percent last year to 191,397. Demand slid 30 percent in the fourth quarter.

FCA had 53,000 units of the Cherokee in inventory on Jan. 1, the Automotive News Data Center estimates, or a 97-day supply, up from a 91-day supply on Dec. 1.

FCA invested $350 million in the plant, starting in 2016, to produce the Cherokee, which was moved from Toledo, Ohio. Cherokee production began in Belvidere in June 2017.

The plant also briefly shut down in August to match production with demand, according to the Rockford Register Star. About 1,400 people were laid off at the factory last year when output was reduced to two shifts from three. The plant employs around 3,700 workers.

The UAW’s new contract with FCA calls for a $55 million investment in the factory. Cherokee production is slated to continue. Next-generation safety features will be added to the Cherokee in 2020, according to details of the union’s new labor pact.

Over the years, the plant has also produced models such as the Dodge Dart and Neon and the Jeep Compass and Patriot.

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