Chrysler has idled the second shift at the Toledo, Ohio, plant that makes the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, marking another delay in the arrival of the upcoming crossover. Although Chrysler says this idling is part of the normal production process, a report from The Detroit News claims that these delays are due to more issues with the Cherokee’s nine-speed transmission.
Last month, Chrysler said that quality and durability testing revealed room for improvement in the calibration of the new ZF-designed transmission. Production was supposed to start in May but was delayed until mid-June while engineers prepared the factory and calibrated the transmission.
Now, workers at the Toledo plant reportedly told the News that the idle is due to a backlog of assembled 2014 Jeep Cherokee models that still have transmission issues and have not yet been shipped to dealers. Five hundred workers on this second shift have been temporarily laid off, and others have apparently been assigned to take Cherokees on test drives.
In a statement, Chrysler confirmed that it has already built a number of Cherokees, but said that this idling was due to normal production ebbs and flows.
“We have been producing vehicles since the end of June and have now built the critical number of vehicles we need to stock dealerships once containment is released,” the Chrysler statement reads. “We will temporarily idle the second shift (at Toledo North) so as not to put additional strain on our logistics partners to get these vehicles into the hands of customers as quickly and efficiently as possible upon release.”
Chrysler says that the 2014 Jeep Cherokee will still reach dealers by the end of this month, and that the idled shift should be picked up again in about two weeks. Our first drive of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee revealed no glaring issues with the transmission; we’ll see how the launch of this important vehicle plays out for Chrysler in the coming weeks.