As Ford and General Motors charge ahead with their electrification plans, Stellantis also moving forward with new investments aimed at updating with alternative powertrains.
Stellantis, which was created earlier this year by the merger of France’s PSA Group and Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler, said this week it is investing $229 million in three plants in Kokomo, Indiana.
The investments will help the company reach its goal of selling 40% low-emission vehicle in the U.S. by 2030.
Stellantis Head of Powertrain Operations Brad Clark said the investment will support retooling of the Kokomo Transmission, Kokomo Casting and Indiana Transmission plants to produce the fourth-generation 8-speed transmission, which will have the flexibility to be paired with internal combustion engines, as well as mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid propulsion systems used by Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge.
“This investment and this transmission represent an important steppingstone in getting us to 2030 and further expanding our battery electric offerings,” said Clark.
“This new 8-speed is the ‘multi-tool’ of transmissions. It is a versatile transmission that can be adapted for a variety of applications, allowing us the flexibility to adjust our production as consumer demand for electrified vehicles grows over the next decade. It also offers consumers the opportunity to get familiar with this technology and explore all of the benefits that can come from electrification.”
New 8 speed uses common parts
The fourth-generation, 8-speed transmission will use common parts within the different versions but have the flexibility for unique parts to adapt to the various electrification options. These parts include the electric motor, torque converter and power electronics.
The 8-speed transmission has been used for the company’s powertrains since production began in 2012 and the current transmission is an option on the Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator and Grand Cherokee; Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer; Ram 1500; Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango; and Chrysler 300 models.
Before the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, Stellantis announced it was investing $400 million across its operations in Kokomo to convert Indiana Transmission Plant II to the Kokomo Engine Plant to build 2.0-liter Global Medium Engine inline 4-cylinder turbo. Production of the new engine is expected to start later this year.
“As our industry continues to change, our focus must continue to be on our most valuable asset — our people,” said Clark. “This transmission program will bring new opportunities for our current workforce, as well as the manufacturing workforce of the future,” he added.
Part of Stellantis long-term plan
In July, Stellantis said it will invest 30 billion euros or $35 billion by the end of 2025 in electrification and software an amount that matches big investments by GM and Ford, while continuing to be the automotive efficiency frontrunner with its investment efficiency 30% better than industry average.
The company goal is for 70% of sales in Europe and over 40% in the United States to be low-emission battery electric or plug in hybrid electric vehicles by 2030 with models from all 14 of its brands, including Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler. Development of four flexible platforms is already well under way, according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.