Chrysler Group has idled the second shift of workers hired last month to build 2014 Jeep Cherokees in Toledo, Ohio, because vehicles already produced haven't yet been released to dealerships.
The company today confirmed the temporary layoff, which is expected to last about two weeks. About 500 workers are off the job, and about 600 others have been reassigned at the Toledo Assembly Complex.
Such a move -- adding a shift and then idling it so quickly -- is considered unusual in auto manufacturing, particularly as a new product is being rolled out.
"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," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson wrote in a statement to Automotive News.
"We will temporarily idle the second shift 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 said 9,430 Cherokees were built by the end of August. They are being held in lots near the Toledo plant in Ohio and in Michigan.
The Blade newspaper of Toledo reported the layoffs this morning.
Chrysler added a second shift full time on Aug. 19 as it ramped up production of the Cherokee. Plant officials this summer said that the two shifts would accelerate production up to 800 vehicles per day.
Jeep and Chrysler executives have said repeatedly that the Cherokees would begin selling "in volume" in the third quarter, but as of this morning on the Jeep.com Web site, no Cherokees were listed in dealer stocks anywhere in the United States.
Chrysler began producing Cherokees June 24 and planned to release the vehicles in mid-August, Jeep brand head Mike Manley said in late June. But the company has so far refused to release them, saying that the Cherokees required a software fix before they would be available to the public.
Tinson confirmed this morning that no Cherokees had yet been released to dealers. The company maintains it will have the Cherokees in dealerships by Monday, which marks the end of the third quarter, but has not revealed a specific date for shipping.