Merry Christmas. You’re fired.
That’s the basic message to workers at an Illinois Jeep Cherokee plant from Stellantis.
Citing the high costs of converting the Cherokee to an electric platform, Stellantis is cutting loose 1,350 workers at its plant in Belvidere, Illinois.
Worse, it’s moving Cherokee production to Mexico, according to The Daily Mail.
The auto industry “’has been adversely affected by a multitude of factors like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the microchip shortage,” Stellantis said, “But the most impactful challenge is the increasing cost related to the electrification of the automotive market.”
Although Stellantis said it seeks to repurpose the Belvidere plant, current production will cease Feb. 28, 2023.
“This difficult but necessary action will result in indefinite layoffs, which are expected to exceed six months and may constitute a job loss under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act,” according to Stellantis.
“As a result, WARN notices have been issued to both hourly and salaried employees,” according to the company, which said “every effort” would be made to put employees in any of its available full-time jobs.
Company documents indicate the Cherokee will be produced in Toluca, Mexico, Tim Ferguson, shop chairman for United Auto Workers (UAW) union Local 1268, said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow that they’re going to ship your vehicle to Mexico,” according to Ferguson. “To me there is no question about it. Their plan is to close this plant.”
There was no immediate comment from the Biden administration, which has said EVs will increase employment in the auto industry, the Daily Mail reported.
Stellantis stems from a 2021 merger between Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot.
By 2030, the company hopes to have all of its vehicles produced for Europe electrified, and half of it U.S. cars electric. It’s investing $31.6 billion in electrification between now and 2025.
Production of the Cherokee in Belvidere began in 2017 following a $350 million investment in the plant the previous year.
UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said, “Companies like Stellantis receive billions in government incentives to transition to clean energy.
“It is an insult to all taxpayers that they are not investing that money back into our communities.”
Jeep is just another iconic nameplate going down the road to electrification, despite serious EV drawbacks and questions of whether consumers want EVs or not.
Emily Dreilbelbus, in an analysis for PC, wrote that automakers are all on board with EVs because of Wall Street’s enthusiasm for them due to perceptions of clean air and simplicity of manufacturing and maintenance.
There’s also competition with international adoption of EVs, especially by China. China, along with Japan and Korea, makes 90 percent of the world’s EV batteries.
Top auto executives, in Dreilbelbus’ analysis, are convinced of a serious climate crisis and see themselves joining governments in making changes.
So Belvidere, Illinois, auto workers should get on board and feel better because they, too, are doing their part to save the planet.