The last Jeep Cherokee rolled off the line at Stellantis’ Belvidere Assembly on Tuesday, possibly writing the last chapter for the nearly 50-year-old facility and serving as a flashpoint for negotiations later. The Illinois assembly plant had been open since 1965 and most recently produced the Jeep Cherokee, which in 2023 was reduced to two trims before its demise this year.
Stellantis said the plant and its 1,350 workers would be idled indefinitely, before the plant’s fate would be decided. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said the automaker would be “looking for solutions” for the plant and its workers but said the cost of producing and selling electric vehicles would create a “new world.”
“The reality of the transformation of the market is the reality that we need to face,” he told reporters. “This is a global issue. This is not a Belvidere issue.”
Closing the plant will likely put the crosshairs on Stellantis for its upcoming negotiations with the United Auto Workers later this year. The union for thousands of auto workers will renegotiate its contracts with all the Detroit Three automakers this year and Stellantis will be pressured by the UAW to explain why it's closing plants when it posted better-than-expected profits last year.
“This economic dislocation is a choice made by Stellantis to reap even higher profit,” UAW Vice President Rich Boyer told The Associated Press. “We will highlight their corporate greed to workers, community, taxpayers, and consumers.”
The workers at Belvidere—and the town of 25,000 surrounding it—face an uncertain future with the plant idled and no new car to produce coming anytime soon. The UAW said about 2,300 workers are affected by the plant’s closing, and that some have agreed to voluntary termination, early retirement packages, or relocation.
Got a tip? Email us at email@example.com