Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC plans to increase its capital investment program at the Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana by $266 million, to increase capacity for its TorqueFlite eight-speed transmissions. It marks the sixth investment program since 2009 for that location, totaling nearly $1.8 billion, the automaker indicated.
The company has said the new investment would retain jobs at the Kokomo operation. FCA US has requested an amended city tax-abatement in connection with the new investment, and it said the project would begin immediately for completion in Q3 2016.
FCA US is the former Chrysler Group LLC, renamed in October when majority owner Fiat SpA merged its two major subsidiaries into a holding company. It has three plants in Kokomo, IN, including the Kokomo Casting aluminum foundry and two transmission plants, one of which is the Kokomo Transmission Plant (the other is the Indiana Transmission Plant I.) Kokomo Transmission machines aluminum block castings and aluminum and steel transmission components, and also assembles several different transmission designs.
The automaker also has a third transmission plant in nearby Tipton, IN.
The new investment will cover the cost of new production equipment and tooling as FCA expands capacity within the plant’s current footprint, and it is a response to car buyers’ increased demand for the multi-speed transmission it introduced a year ago with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee,Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Durango, and Ram 1500 models.
The high-speed transmissions were introduced to improve fuel economy, as the tighter gear ratio achieves greater control of engine performance, and as well as enhance engine performance, as the higher gear range increases acceleration rates. FCA US has produced almost 1 million of the transmissions since September 2012, and it estimated the design soon would be installed in over 1 million vehicles worldwide.
FCA US further claimed the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmissions are the first of this type available to “mainstream” car buyers, and will conserve over 700 million gallons of fuel (based on current numbers) during their service life.
“Since the launch of the eight-speed, employees at Kokomo Transmission have been working practically round the clock to produce this advanced, fuel-efficient transmission,” stated Brad Clark, who leads FCA’s Powertrain Manufacturing Operations – North America. “We are pleased that vehicles equipped with this transmission have been so well received by consumers. This investment will give us the additional capacity we need to make it available across even more vehicles in our product line.”