With a $300 million budget, Chrysler Group plans to build a new eight-speed automatic transmission licensed from ZF Group, a transmission maker based in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
Chrysler said that this investment will be used to have special tooling and equipment installed at Chrysler's Transmission Plant 1 and Kokomo Casting Plant in Indiana and as a result, 1,200 jobs will be retained.
Production will begin in 2013. But before production ramps up in Kokomo, Chrysler will import the transmissions from Germany.
Spokesman Nick Cappa declined to say when the imports are expected to begin. In a statement, Paolo Ferrero, Chrysler senior vice president of powertrain, said that the transmission would help lead to a 25% drop in fuel economy by 2014. Chrysler has yet to disclose which vehicles the transmission would be fitted in.
So far, we know that the rear-drive vehicles made by BMW are already using it. It is likely that Chrysler would use it in the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as Ram pickups.
Currently, Indiana Transmission Plant 1 produces the 45 RFE rear-drive transmission for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Dodge Dakota and Ram Trucks.
It also builds the 68 RFE for the Cummins Diesel engine found in Ram Heavy Duty trucks. These two transmissions are six-speed.