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Chrysler Investment Means New Jobs, Improved Fuel Economy

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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KOKOMO, IN (WWJ) – Chrysler is putting $374 million into its Kokomo, Indiana transmission plant, adding 1,250 new jobs.

“Let me just say that Kokomo is buzzing right now with energy,” said Brad Clark, who heads the transmission team at Kokomo.

There are currently 6,000 workers at four plants in Kokomo. Chrysler will purchase a fifth plant from a supplier and use it to build all new nine speed transmissions.


Interview: Chrysler’s Brad Clark talks with WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert.

“They certainly take a big leap in our product portfolio as it relates to fuel economy,” said Clark.

“For the consumer, it’s gonnna be a huge, huge advantage for our products.”

Companies have been looking to improvements in transmission technology, as they work to meet new, stricter fuel economy rules. The new 9-speed transmission will begin appearing in Chrysler products later this year.

A statement from Chrysler detailed the investment:

  • Kokomo Transmission, Kokomo Casting and Indiana Transmission I Plants: investing $212 million for additional tooling and equipment to produce the eight- and nine-speed transmissions; adding up to 400 new jobs, subject to market conditions. Work on the facilities is scheduled to begin in the second quarter 2013, with equipment and tooling to be installed in the fourth quarter 2013.
  • Tipton Transmission Plant: acquiring the former Getrag facility and investing $162 million to establish an additional assembly site for the nine-speed transmission; creating up to 850 new jobs, subject to market conditions. Production at the site will begin in the first quarter of 2014.

The investment announcement was made during a ceremony at the plant, featuring Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

“Our investments in Kokomo and Tipton are a tribute to the character of the men and women of Chrysler who survived a near-fatal experience and have embraced the challenge of building an enterprise that is able to compete with the best in the world,” said Marchionne.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, Chrysler has invested $5.2 billion in its U.S. facilities, and added nearly 8000 hourly jobs.

People who are interested in applying for jobs with Chrysler can find more information at www.chryslercareers.com.

As auto sales rebound, companies have been making a number of new production announcements at both assembly and powertrain plants. This makes a total of $1.6 billion that Chrysler has invested in the Kokomo complex. Clark says he’s seen quite a turnaround at Chrysler’s Kokomo operations.

“Three years ago, this workforce pulled together and have delivered for three years straight. Last year, all of the plants made their capacity, and it was a phenomenal year.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Twitter: @jefferygilbert
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles

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