Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA US, has announced a $350 million investment to produce the Jeep Cherokee at its nearly 5 million-square-foot Belvidere Assembly Plant, 3000 West Chrysler Drive, in Belvidere, Illinois.
Production of the Cherokee, which is currently in Toledo, Ohio, will create approximately 300 new jobs when it transitions to Illinois in 2017. Right now, products at Belvidere Assembly Plant include Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, however; production of the Dodge Dart and the Jeep Compass and Patriot will end in September 2016 and December 2016, according to the company.
“This investment will strengthen the FCA US presence in Illinois and create good paying manufacturing jobs for Illinois residents,” Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said. “We’re proud FCA US chose Illinois for production of the Jeep Cherokee. Illinois has lost many of the manufacturing jobs that made our economy strong. We hope to continue to build on this success and get Illinois manufacturing growing again.”
The plant, which was constructed between 1964 and 1965, has experienced a transformative change within its product line that began July 1965 when the first car was produced there. From then until 1977, the products included the Plymouth and Dodge two-door and four-door models, station wagons, and the Chrysler Town and Country station wagon. After 12 years, the plant was then converted to front-wheel drive production.
Drastic changes began to occur to the facility in 2010, when the company announced a $600 million investment to support future models in 2012. That included the construction of a 638,000-square-foot body shop and installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment.
That following year, the company increased that investment total to $700 million and announced the addition of 1,800 jobs by third quarter of 2012–five hundred of which would be working on the production of the all-new Dodge Dart.
But as the products lines began to change, mergers took shape–Chrysler Group later became FCA US, and Fiat later changed to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.–and so did the technology.
The Belvidere facility was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Green Building certification in April 2015 for meeting the highest environmental standards.
On July 14, 2016, FCA US announced that the facility was awarded bronze status for its results in implementing World Class Manufacturing (WCM).