Chrysler Corp. decided last week to halt Jeep Cherokee production for two extra weeks this summer to reduce inventory.
The Toledo Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio, already was scheduled for a normal two-week shutdown for maintenance and retooling to prepare for the 1998 model year.
As of May 1, there was a 73-day supply of Cherokees. The Jeep Wrangler, also assembled in Toledo, had a 43-day supply. The industry considers a 60-day supply ideal.
'It's no secret, the whole sport-utility market is soft now,' said Dan Moore, a Chrysler spokesman.
The shutdown will begin July 3 for Cherokee and Wrangler. Wrangler production will resume July 21, and Cherokee production will resume Aug. 4.
U.S. Cherokee sales were down nearly 23 percent this year through April, compared with the same period in 1996. Wrangler sales, however, were up more than 35 percent through April.