DETROIT—Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV announced last week that it will invest $4.5 billion in five plants to build new models of Jeeps to compete in the lucrative market for full-size, three-row SUVs currently dominated by rivals General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

The new investments announced on Tuesday will create 6,500 jobs in Michigan. At the same time, the automaker said it was cutting the third shift at its Rockford, IL, plant, where it assembles the Jeep Cherokee, laying off 1,371 workers. The company said it would “make every effort” to find work for laid off hourly workers based on seniority.

These moves come at a time when the U.S. vehicle market looks set to decline, with 2019 industry-wide sales expected to fall below 2018 levels.