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Chrysler halts Cherokee production, idles second shift in Toledo

The upgraded North section of the Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex which will be used to produce the Jeep Cherokee is seen during a media to
The upgraded North section of the Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex which will be used to produce the Jeep Cherokee is seen during a media to

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker majority-owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA , said on Monday that it temporarily halted production of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, and laid off 500 workers at a factory in Toledo, Ohio.

The company said it halted production after building a sufficient number of 2014 Cherokees at the Toledo North plant to satisfy demand once they are shipped to dealers.

"We will temporarily idle the second shift so as not to put additional strain on our logistics partners," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in an emailed statement.

The company is supposed to launch the 2014 Cherokee this month. The launch was originally scheduled for August, but the company pushed it back to fix calibration issues with the Cherokee's new nine-speed transmission.

The news was first reported by the Toledo Blade newspaper, which said the layoffs will last two weeks.

Chrysler began building the model in late June and added the second shift at Toledo North on August 19. Of the 1,100 workers hired on the second shift, 500 have been laid off and another 600 have been temporarily reassigned to other parts of the Toledo Assembly Complex, where Chrysler also builds the Jeep Wrangler.

Bruce Baumhower, the president of United Auto Workers Local 12, told the Blade on Monday that Chrysler was conducting final quality checks on the Cherokees before releasing them to dealers.

Baumhower could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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