The much-awaited Kokomo Engine Plant (KEP) is picking up speed, and plant leadership expects the new facility to open later this year.
According to Plant Launch Manager Rod Mabesa, the plant will be operational in the fourth quarter of this year. Stellantis has invested $400 million to revamp the former Indiana Transmission Plant II into KEP. The project includes an expansion of the current building by about 80,000 square feet, as well as a two-story, 40,000-square-foot administration building, which ground was broken on last month.
According to Joe Per, head of engine operations for Stellantis, starting the new engine plant in the footprint of ITPII just made sense.
“Certainly when we talk about powertrain utilization and site selection, and we started kicking around the idea of where to put this engine plant, it fit very, very nicely in the footprint of ITPII,” Per said. “And then we said, ‘Well, we can’t call it ITPII. We have to call it Kokomo Engine Plant.’ That was my suggestion because I was also plant manager at Kenosha engine plant back in 2004. So I like the ring of the KEP.”
Currently, Mabesa is working on onboarding the team, something that he has experience in, as he has launched plants around the world, including facilities in Italy.
“I think it’s a very, very exciting time and a proud time for the Stellantis employees and especially the city of Kokomo with this engine plant because it does diversify our manufacturing footprint. Not only transmission and casting, but now it’s engine manufacturing,” Mabesa said. “I want to acknowledge the union leadership here in the Kokomo area for their continued support and cooperation as we move forward to launch this plant. It would not be successful if we didn’t have their cooperation.”
KEP is expected to create over 200 new jobs for Kokomo and retain about 1,000 more.
Once the plant is operational, the facility will handle the manufacturing of all Global Medium Engine Turbo 4 (GMET4) engines in the U.S. for the company. The engine currently is used in the Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee.
Per, like Mabesa, said he was excited for the future of Kokomo with this plant.
“I’m excited for all the people of Kokomo,” Per said. “I’m excited for the union, for the leadership, and I really think it’s going to be a great assignment.”