The global shortage of microchips forced the temporary shutdown Monday of the Jeep manufacturing plant in Belvidere and four other plants devoted to the Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Ram brands.
The plants will be closed through early to mid-April, said Jodi Tinson, spokeswoman for the brands’ owner, Stellantis. The company, the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, was formed by the January merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Peugeot.
The Belvidere plant, near Rockford, produces the Jeep Cherokee. Tinson said the plant employs about 3,600 people in two shifts.
“Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry,” Tinson said.
Industry analysts have said the lack of semiconductor chips stems from the early days of the pandemic when automakers, having to close production lines, canceled orders. Chip producers pivoted to consumer electronics, which enjoyed a sales boom from customers stuck at home.
People shopping for autos have encountered thin inventories at dealerships and higher demand for used cars.
The situation has disrupted operations for other automakers. Ford, for example, idled its Chicago Assembly plant for a week in January. Elsewhere, Ford has resorted to producing trucks without the chips, holding models at factories for completion later. Nissan has temporarily stopped some production in the U.S. and Mexico.
The four other Stellantis plants included in the closures together employ nearly 15,000 people, according to company data. They are in Brampton and Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Toluca, Mexico; and Warren, Michigan.
The affected products include Chrysler and Dodge cars, Chrysler minivans, the Jeep Compass and the Ram 1500 pickup.