Chrysler Group LLC will invest $19.6 million to raise capacity torque converters at its Toledo Machining Plant in Ohio — part of a larger strategy to introduce higher-speed transmissions, to improve vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. The idea is that more transmission speeds give a more precise control over engine performance, which is evident in both acceleration and fuel consumption.
The investments will pay for installation of new equipment and tooling for additional machining and assembly capacity. Installation would begin in the third quarter of next year, for completion by the end of 2014.
A torque converter is a fluid coupling that can multiply torque and transfer rotating power from a vehicle’s engine to the rotating drive.
The torque converters to be produced following the latest announcement will be part of the drivetrain of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, linked to a nine-speed front-wheel drive transmission being assembled at Chrysler Group’s Indiana (Kokomo, Ind.) Transmission Plant I.
The Kokomo plant was one of four to be expanded and improved with investments totaling $374 million, announced earlier this year.
The automaker noted the new plans would increase its U.S. investments over $5.2 billion since 2009. In 2011, the Toledo Machining Plant was the object of a $72-million program to install new machinery and tooling to produce front-wheel and rear-wheel drive torque converters and steering columns for the eight- and nine-speed transmission, and a new steering column for the Dodge Dart and Jeep Cherokee. Those installations will be complete in the third quarter this year.
“The new nine-speed transmission is a critical part of our strategy to meet fuel economy requirements over the next several years and Toledo Machining will play an integral role in bringing this transmission to market,” stated Scott Garberding, senior vice president, manufacturing, Chrysler Group LLC. “Securing this additional investment is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the plant’s workforce and helps secure its future, long-term.”
The Toledo Machining plant produces torque converters for two Chrysler transmission plants in Kokomo, Ind., and assembly plants in Sterling Heights, Mich., and Toluca, Mex. It also produces steering columns for assembly plants in Belvidere, Ill.; Sterling Heights and Warren, Mich.; Toledo, Ohio; Windsor, Ont.; Toluca, Mex., Saltillo, Mex., Cairo, Egypt, and Carabobo, Venezuela.