FCA's Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois will stop Cherokee production for a bit to prevent overproduction.
The Jeep Cherokee has taken a hit in the US new car market, with sales sliding 20 percent last year from their 2018 levels, tumbling 30 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter alone.
To better align production with demand and avoid a glut of unsold Cherokees from amassing on dealer lots, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Belvidere Assembly Plant near Chicago will shut down for two weeks starting Monday, January 13th. The plant will idle through at least January 27th, when regular production will resume, according to Automotive News.
The Cherokee is Belvidere Assembly's sole product, starting production there from 2017 after the last examples of the Dodge Dart, Jeep Patriot, and first-generation Jeep Compass rolled off the line. The plant employs nearly 3,700 hourly workers.
Industry-wide, new car sales are down in the US market, but the Jeep Cherokee's sales slump far outpaces the industry average. The current fourth-generation Cherokee has been in production since the 2014 model year, receiving a mild facelift for 2019. The compact crossover is slated to receive new safety features later this year, according to a summary of the FCA's latest contract with the United Auto Workers union, but it's unknown when we'll see a complete redesign.
Fiat Chrysler will also idle its Windsor Assembly Plant for the same span this month as both of its products - the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivan models - have seen a similar dip in demand. Pacifica sales slid 17 percent for the year, while demand for the Grand Caravan experienced a 19-percent drop.
Overall, though, Fiat Chrysler sales were down a more modest 1.5 percent through 2019, in line with the industry average slump, as deliveries from the automaker's Ram Trucks division surged 18 percent to more than 703,000 units.
Total Jeep brand sales in 2019 slid 5 percent in the US market as the all-new Jeep Gladiator joined America's expanding mid-size pickup segment.