Stellantis announced a new project Thursday that will help the auto manufacturer reach its goal to sell low-emission vehicles.
Stellantis will invest $229 million into its Kokomo plants and ready them to produce “multi-tool”, eight-speed transmissions that can be used with internal combustion engines, mild hybrid systems, and plug-in hybrid systems. This will help the company hit its target for electric vehicles to make up 40% of sales by 2030.
“You either have a catch-up strategy or a leader approach,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “Obviously racing is in our blood; we like to be in a good position. We have such a rich heritage and past in the automotive industry, [and we have] to think about where we want to be in 10, 20, 30 years.”
The Kokomo Transmission Plant has built more than 5 million eight-speed transmissions to date. They have been a staple to the company since 2012, when production of the second generation of eight-speed transmissions began.
The new transmissions, which will be part of the fourth generation, will give the company greater ability to produce hybrid vehicles that will have lower emission rates. Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge brands will all be subject to receiving the new transmissions, and the project will also allow the company to keep 662 jobs in Kokomo that might otherwise have become unnecessary.
“With this being [Stellantis’s] second major investment in the Kokomo and Howard County facilities, it shows their continued commitment to and confidence in our local workforce, and what we’re able to do and accomplish for them,” Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore said.
Stellantis announced a $400 million investment in March that will reposition the Indiana Transmission Plant II into the Kokomo Engine Plant. Once the transition has been completed, that plant will produce GMET4 engines. The company said engine production should begin by the end of the year.
After the new transmissions were announced, Holcomb signed House Bill 1168, which was authored by state Rep. Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo. The bill established a commission to discuss electric vehicles and advanced technology.
“It really was a proud day when Representative Karickhoff was leading the way for members of the delegation,” Holcomb said. “Both sides passed House Bill 1168, which puts us not just in the game but keeps us as a leader in terms of what transportation will look like two years from now, five years from now, and 10 years from now. We’re making sure Indiana is aligned with the industry and the needs of the industry.”
Brad Clark, head of powertrain operations at Stellantis, said the new transmissions are an important bridge that will allow the local plants to move into the future of electric vehicles.
“This transmission will help us get there,” Clark said. “We call it the ‘multi-tool’ because it’s very flexible.”
Stellantis officials are not yet certain how many electric vehicles will be produced compared to the number of combustion engine vehicles to start, but the company already is producing the plug-in electric Jeep Wrangler 4XE and the Chrysler Pacifica Si-EVT Hybrid Transaxle.
The company expects demand for electric vehicles to continue to grow and this investment in the Kokomo plants will help meet that need.
“We’ve battled a global pandemic, we’ve tackled global supply-chain restraints, and we formed a new company, Stellantis,” Clark said. “Stellantis hit the ground running in January, and since then we’ve made significant progress in building a world leader for a new era of sustainability and mobility.”