Chrysler Group has completed the renovation and restart of a transmission plant in central Indiana, where it is producing its new nine-speed transmissions. These new powertrain products are part of the automaker’s strategy to reduce the carbon emissions of its product line, but also represent part of a wider trend to increase the gear range of cars and trucks in order to reduce fuel consumption while achieving drivers’ expectations for performance.
The Tipton Transmission Plant in Tipton, Ind., had been idle when Chrysler announced last year it would invest $162 million to update and relaunch manufacturing there. The effort was part of a $374-million program that also included improvements to an aluminum foundry, a two other transmission plants in the region.
The plant once had been a joint venture of the former Chrysler organization with Getrag, a transmission and powertrain components supplier. An earlier plan to remodel it for transmission production foundered when Chrysler declared bankruptcy in 2009.
The automaker indicated that the Tipton Transmission Plant will be producing the new nine-speed transmission at a 400,000/year rate annual rate by later this year, and that will increase to 800,000/year by 2015.
Chrysler indicated it would employ 850 workers there by the end of 2015.
Aluminum castings for the transmissions are produced a the Kokomo Casting plant, and machined parts (housings, blocks, heads) are produced at the Kokomo Transmission plant, while rotating parts (gears, crankshafts) will be produces at the Indiana Transmission Plant I, also in Kokomo. All these components are shipped to the Tipton plant for final assembly.
As a “global hub” for Chrysler’s nine-speed transmissions, Tipton Transmission Plant will deliver its finished products to assembly plants in Toledo, Ohio (Jeep Cherokee) and Sterling Heights, Mich. (Chrysler 200) as well as to Fiat plants in Italy, Brazil, China, and Turkey. Products may be shipped to other Chrysler and or Fiat plants, as needed, according to the automaker.
Production of the first nine-speed transmissions began last May at Chrysler nearby Indiana Transmission Plant.
“With the startup of TTP, we are enhancing the status of this region as the largest transmission installation in the world,” stated Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne. “Just recently, we reached the landmark numbers of 17 million four-speed transmissions and three million six-speed transmissions built in Kokomo.”
Four-speed and six-speed transmissions are built at the Kokomo Transmission Plant.