Chrysler is ending this year with a bang. The automaker just announced its plans on investing $266 million into two of its four transmission plants in Kokomo, Ind. in an effort to expand production on the eight-speed automatic transmission.
More than 1 million cars equipped with the eight-speed have been sold so far, and because demand has been so high, the automaker has decided to expand transmission production by adding brand new equipment at the two plants. It also received a little help, as the Kokomo Common Council under a unanimous vote approved a 10-year tax abatement on personal property taxes for the project.
Chrysler has invested more than $1.5 billion at its Kokomo transmission plants, and more recently in 2012, the automaker overhauled the 3.1-million-square-foot plant by installing new manufacturing equipment necessary to produce the eight-speed transmission, which has been built under license by ZF since 2013. The eight-speed automatic replaced the antiquated five-speed automatic that was offered in rear-wheel drive vehicles such as the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Chrysler 300, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The eight-speed replaced the five-speed in an effort to return smoother power delivery and up to 9 percent better fuel economy.
With Chrysler adding more equipment to its plants and ramping up production, Kokomo is now the world’s largest producer of transmissions with about 7600 employees working at its manufacturing facilities.