Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills announced Thursday it plans to invest $400 million to repurpose an idled transmission plant in Kokomo, Ind. to build GMET4 engines for the Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee. The conversion will retain 1,000 jobs and add nearly 200 more. It will be renamed the Kokomo Engine Plant.
“The GMET4 will be a very important engine for us as we look to deliver on the promises we made as part of our five-year plan in 2018,” says Mark Stewart, COO of FCA North America. “While the 2.0-liter is a current engine option on the Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee models, a significant number of new technologies can be applied to this engine, making it relevant for the future. It will play an important role in our plans to offer electric engine options across 30 nameplates that FCA will bring to markets around the world by 2022.”
The facility, which has been idled since last fall, will be the source of all U.S. production for the GMET4 engine, which is currently built in Termoli, Italy. Production is expected to begin in the second quarter 2021.
FCA has built transmissions in Indiana for eight decades, accounting for more than 90 million gear boxes since record keeping began in 1974. Since 2009, the company has invested nearly $2 billion in its four area plants to produce the eight- and nine-speed transmissions. When production of the GMET4 launches, it will mark the first time in the company’s history that it has built engines in the state.
“As engine technology continues to change, our focus must continue to be on our most valuable asset – our people,” Stewart says. “This engine program will bring new job opportunities for our current workforce, as well as the manufacturing workforce of the future. Our employees – some of whom are second-, third-, or even fourth-generation FCA employees – have always demonstrated a passion to help deliver great products for our customers.”
FCA currently operates three transmission plants and one casting plant in Indiana. The portfolio of transmissions includes four-, six-, eight-, and nine-speed transmissions, as well as the SiEVT transmission for the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid electric minivan, built at the Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada. The casting plant produces aluminum parts for automotive components, transmission and transaxle cases, and engine block castings.