Chrysler may be finally pushing its Pentastar V-6 into production and readying the launch of an eight-speed automatic for its rear-wheel-drive applications, but it appears the automaker isn’t finished pushing new powertrain products to market.
In fact, executives — with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in tow — announced yesterday they were looking to invest $843 million into Chrysler’s transmission plants in Kokomo, Indiana, in order to build an all-new front-wheel-drive transmission.
Chrysler officials refrained from describing the new gearbox, but noted the company was partnering with ZF to develop the new transmission. That leads us to doubt the firm is building its new six-speed dual-clutch unit — which has Fiat roots — in the plant. Instead, sources close to the company suggest the gearbox destined for Kokomo may, in fact, be the nine-speed automatic Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne referenced earlier this year.
Currently, the $843 million investment is hinged on approval of a tax abatement, which won’t be voted on by the Kokomo City Council until the second week of December. If ratified, the investment could likely bring 2250 jobs into the facility, and make Kokomo an important player in Chrysler’s future powertrain production. The automaker previously announced a $343 million investment that will place production of the ZF-designed, longitudinal, eight-speed automatic within Kokomo’s city limits.
Even if Kokomo’s leaders approve the tax break later this year, production of the new front-wheel-drive automatic won’t commence for quite some time. We wouldn’t be surprised if Chrysler needs to thoroughly overhaul the facility to add production of the new transmission to the site. As such, we would be surprised if it appeared in products before 2014.