Stellantis is investing $229 million to retool three Indiana plants to build its new flexible eight-speed transmission that can be used in both electrified vehicles and those with conventional setups.
The Kokomo Transmission, Kokomo Casting and Indiana Transmission plants, all in the city of Kokomo, will be key cogs in the automaker’s electrification strategy. Stellantis said in July that it is investing more than $35 billion through 2025 in electrification and software and plans to have four electric vehicle platforms that support driving ranges of 300 to 500 miles.
Stellantis has set a goal of having electrified vehicles account for more than 40 percent of U.S. sales by 2030.
The next-generation transmission will deliver improved fuel economy, the automaker said, and help the company meet “future emission regulations.” The company said the transmissions, which can be paired with mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid propulsion systems along with traditional internal combustion engine layouts, will be installed in Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge models.
The investment will retain 662 jobs.
“This investment and this transmission represent an important steppingstone in getting us to 2030 and further expanding our battery electric offerings,” Stellantis Head of Powertrain Operations Brad Clark said in a statement. “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.”
Stellantis said the new transmission will “capitalize on a number of common parts within the different versions” such as the transmission gear train/clutch, mechanical pump and E-pump motor.
The automaker added that the transmission will have the “flexibility for unique parts to adapt to the various electrification options. These parts include the eMotor, torque converter and power electronics.”
The move brings more diversity to Kokomo’s production slate. Stellantis announced last year that 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 of the engine is expected to launch this year, the company said.
Thursday’s announcement was made in conjunction with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signing of House Bill 1168, which creates the Electric Vehicle Production Commission. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. said the commission is “designed to help ensure Indiana is advancing 21st century automotive and mobility solutions” and “will assess the state’s existing EV product facilities, identify opportunities for research and development, and evaluate opportunities and needs for training within Indiana’s EV industry.”
UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said the investment sets up workers for the future.
“During the 2019 negotiations the UAW negotiators made it a priority that as we transition into the next generation of vehicles and powertrains the UAW members must continue to build these great products,” Estrada, director of the UAW Stellantis Department, said in a statement. “The commitment to building these multi-tool transmissions will enable Kokomo UAW members to continue the quality transmissions used in today’s gas and hybrid technology while preparing for electric vehicles and new technologies far into the future.”
Vince Bond Jr. writes for Crain’s sister publication Automotive News.