Earlier this week, Stellantis placed its factory in Belvidere, Illinois, on “idle” in what industry analysts believe is a clear sign the plant will likely be shut down soon. However, the United Auto Workers union was quick to release a statement saying such a decision “will not stand.”
The Belvidere production site currently has around 1,350 employees and has been assembling the Jeep Cherokee for years. It seems that the automaker’s major transition from combustion engines towards electrified and electric vehicles could force it to close the plant, though. With no new vehicle to be produced there – the last Cherokee rolled off the assembly lines on Tuesday this week – Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said the company is “looking for solutions” but there might not be any.
Gallery: 2023 Jeep Cherokee
According to Tavares, electric vehicles are approximately 40 percent more expensive to produce than equivalent combustion-powered models and the company doesn’t want to pass that increase to customers for obvious reasons. Stellantis also can’t sell EVs at a loss and it is currently looking for ways to optimize the processes and absorb the added costs.
The UAW has a completely different approach to the situation, though. It says the “award-winning plant” has been producing vehicles for Chrysler, FCA, and Stellantis since 1965, delivering “quality and productivity for the corporation for generations.” More importantly, in an official statement, the organization says “Stellantis’ ill-advised decision will have negative repercussions throughout the region and supplier network” and “will disrupt lives, uproot families, and leave communities struggling to find economic drivers.”
The UAW seems to be especially unhappy by the fact that Stellantis refuses to invest in the plant in times when Carlos Tavares receives a $24.8 million compensation package for 2022. The UAW says it “will continue to demand that Stellantis put a product in the Belvidere Assembly Plant.” The Associated Press, in turn, predicts “national contract talks” could bring “a painful strike” this summer.
Sources: The Associated Press, UAW