Auburn Hills’ Stellantis announced Thursday it will invest a total of $229 million in three of its Kokomo, Ind. plants to help the automaker reach its goal of achieving 40 percent low-emission vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.
This announcement, which will retain 662 jobs, comes three months after the company laid out its long-term electrification strategy, where it committed to investing $35 billion through 2025 in electrification and software.
The investment will support retooling of the Kokomo Transmission (KTP), Kokomo Casting, and Indiana Transmission plants to produce the fourth-generation eight-speed transmission. The new transmission will have the flexibility to be paired with internal combustion engines, as well as mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid propulsion systems, for vehicles across the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, and Dodge brands, according to the company.
“This investment and this transmission represent an important stepping stone in getting us to 2030 and further expanding our battery electric offerings,” says Brad Clark, head of powertrain operations for Stellantis. “This new eight-speed is the ‘multi-tool’ of transmissions. It is a versatile transmission that can be adapted for a variety of applications, allowing us the flexibility to adjust our production as consumer demand for electrified vehicles grows over the next decade. It also offers consumers the opportunity to get familiar with this technology and explore all of the benefits that can come from electrification.”
The new transmission is designed to capitalize on a number of common parts within the different versions — transmission gear train/clutch, mechatronics, mechanical pump, and E-pump motor. It also will have the flexibility for unique parts to adapt to the various electrification options. These parts include the eMotor, torque converter, and power electronics.
Adding electrified transmission assembly also diversifies the product portfolio of the Kokomo operations. In March 2020, Stellantis announced it would invest $400 million to convert Indiana Transmission Plant II to the Kokomo Engine Plant to produce the GMET4 engine, the company’s 2.0-liter Global Medium Engine inline four-cylinder turbo. Production is expected to launch later this year.
The announced investment also leverages the core manufacturing competencies of the Kokomo operations and the local workforce in the areas of casting, machining and assembly, all of which will be needed as the market transitions to an electrified future, Stallantis says.
“As our industry continues to change, our focus must continue to be on our most valuable asset — our people,” says Clark. “This transmission program will bring new opportunities for our current workforce, as well as the manufacturing workforce of the future.”
Stallantis officials say the second-generation eight-speed transmission has been a workhorse of the company’s powertrains since production began in 2012. KTP celebrated the 5 millionth eight-speed transmission built on Sept. 30. It is the current transmission option on the Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator, and Grand Cherokee; Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer; Ram 1500; Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango; and Chrysler 300 models.