Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is spending $400 million US to transform a former transmission plant into a future engine plant, saving present jobs and adding about 25% more.
The former Indiana Transmission Plant II in Kokomo had built the Chrysler version of the Mercedes 5-speed G-Tronic automatic used in FCA’s large rear-wheel drive offerings (Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Charger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee) but has been sitting idle. It will now become FCA’s first engine plant in Indiana, starting in the second quarter of 2021.
Rebranding it Indiana Engine Plant, it will be switched over to build the GMET4 — the turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine used in Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees, and which is currently sourced solely out of Italy, that will play a big role in FCA’s future hybrid models. The move will retain the current 1,000 jobs at the plant and add another 200, bringing FCA’s total Indiana employment to 8,300.
“The GMET4 will be a very important engine for us as we look to deliver on the promises we made as part of our five-year plan in 2018,” said FCA North America Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart. “While the 2.0-liter is a current engine option on the Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee models, a significant number of new technologies can be applied to this engine, making it relevant for the future. It will play an important role in our plans to offer electric engine options across 30 nameplates that FCA will bring to markets around the world by 2022.”
Indiana has been the source of transmissions for Chrysler for eight decades, churning out more 90 million since the company started keeping records on 1974. FCA has invested more than $2 billion in the four area plants that are producing 8- and 9-speed automatics. When the GMET4 starts production, it will be the first time the company has built engines in the state.
“As engine technology continues to change, our focus must continue to be on our most valuable asset – our people,” said Stewart. “This engine program will bring new job opportunities for our current workforce, as well as the manufacturing workforce of the future. Our employees – some of whom are second-, third- or even fourth-generation FCA employees – have always demonstrated a passion to help deliver great products for our customers.”