UPDATE: Laid Off Chrysler Workers Back To Work

- UPDATE (3/17/14): Chrysler confirms all shifts are back to normal operations.

UPDATE (3/10/14): Chrysler confirms the temporary layoffs of its workers at the Belvidere plant will extend into this week.  It's expected they'll return to work March 17.

BELVIDERE -- Chrysler reports the nation's bitter winter weather has been great for Jeep sales but not so good for the sales of its compact Dodge Dart, which is assembled in Belvidere.  As a result, the company is laying off employees.

In a statement, the company says, "Chrysler Group’s Belvidere Assembly Plant (Ill.) is adjusting its production schedule during the week of March 3, 2014, in order to balance vehicle supply with current sales demand. This action will result in the layoff of 325 employees on all three crews."  The layoff is scheduled to last for this week only.

Overall, the company is doing well, reporting an 11% increase in sales in February, 2014 over the previous year.  It's the company's best February sales performance since before the Great Recession.

Jeep drove sales, with the brand posting a 47% increase over the previous February.  The Jeep Compass is also assembled in Belvidere.

“The severe weather has been ideally suited for our legendary Jeep 4x4 capability as Jeep brand sales were up 47% and the brand had its best February sales ever,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales in a news release. “Overall February was another solid month for Chrysler Group as our total sales were up 11% and we achieved our 47th-consecutive month of year-over-years sales growth.”

Except for the Dart.  The issue with sales is that the Dart is Dodge's only compact offering in a segment where buyers tend to look at brands which offer more small car variety, such as Kia, Honda and Toyota.
That's despite the fact the Dart has been recognized as a really good car.  Dodge noted in a news release on Monday it has once again been selected as a 'Best Bet' by the 2014 edition of 'The Car Book.'  Dodge reports the vehicle scored a '9' on a scale of '10' overall when analyzed for crash test results, safety features, rollover rating, preventative maintenance schedules, repair costs, warranty coverage, fuel economy, complaint data and insurance costs.

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