Auburn Hills, Michigan – Just two months after producing the one millionth TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, FCA US facilities in Indiana celebrated another milestone – production of the one millionth 948TE nine-speed automatic – and officially welcomed it into the TorqueFlite transmission family.
FCA North America Vice President of Manufacturing Brian Harlow, joined by the Company’s Vice President of Transmission Powertrain Jeffrey Lux, acknowledged the achievement during employee events at both the Indiana Transmission Plant I (ITPI) and the Tipton Transmission Plant, where the nine-speed has been built since May 2013.
“Five years ago, when Chrysler Group announced that it would build the nine-speed automatic transmission in Indiana, it was a huge vote of confidence in the skills, knowledge and expertise of our local workforce, especially because ITPI would be the first plant ever to build the nine-speed,” says Harlow. “This was a significant challenge, but an even greater opportunity. There was a lot riding on our employees’ ability to deliver.
“Everyone involved rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations,” Harlow adds. “You have proven that our decision to invest here was a wise one and demonstrated what makes this workforce one of the best in the business.”
Along with recognizing the dedication of its employees, the company introduced the nine-speed automatic transmission as the newest member of the TorqueFlite family. The TorqueFlite automatic transmission has a long history, dating back to 1956. First introduced in Imperial models, TorqueFlite transmissions were known for having superior performance while also being extremely tough and reliable. The new nine-speed embodies those same characteristics, but in a modern day package, deserving of the TorqueFlite name.
“Our TorqueFlite nine-speed transmissions deliver superior performance in a broad range of driving environments both on road and off road,” says Lux. “We’re extremely proud to hit the first milestone and look forward to engineering and building millions more for our customers.”
Plans for nine-speed automatic transmission production were confirmed in November 2010. FCA US, then known as Chrysler Group, announced that it was partnering with Friedrichshafen, Germany-based ZF Group, which was making its nine-speed designs and technology available to the company and its Kokomo plants. The company also announced that it would invest nearly $850 million in its existing transmission manufacturing facilities in Kokomo to produce the new advanced front-wheel drive automatic transmission.
Not quite three years later, the company announced that it would invest $162 million to open a new facility to produce the nine-speed in Tipton, Ind., creating up to 850 new jobs.
The first nine-speed automatic transmission rolled off the line 28 months ago at ITPI. In May 2014, production moved to the new Tipton Transmission Plant, establishing it as the global hub for nine-speeds and bringing additional work to three of the company’s facilities in Kokomo. Kokomo Casting produces castings for the new transmission; Kokomo Transmission machines the prismatic parts – housings, blocks and heads; and ITPI produces the rotating parts – gears and cranks. All components are then shipped to Tipton for final assembly.
When it reaches full capacity, Tipton will ship about 800,000 finished transmissions a year in all-wheel, four-wheel, and two-wheel drive configurations. The Tipton-built nine-speeds are sent to Toledo, Ohio, for use in the Jeep Cherokee and to Sterling Heights, Michigan, for the Chrysler 200, as well as to FIAT plants in Melfi, Italy, and Pernambuco, Brazil, for the Jeep Renegade; the TOFAS plant in Bursa, Turkey, for the Ram ProMaster; and China. The potential exists to expand production to other international facilities as needed.
In addition to the nine-speed automatic, ITPI also produces the six-speed automatic for Ram Trucks, Cummins Diesel and Heavy Duty. The plant employs more than 2,600 people. The Tipton Transmission Plant was dedicated in May 2014 and currently employs nearly 800 people.
Source: FCA US LLC