Perhaps the biggest comeback kid following its lowest point in 2009, Chrysler is sticking out U.S. manufacturing for the long haul, promising a $374 million investment in Indiana plants that will bring on another 1,250 workers in the heart of the Rust Belt.
The biggest additions will come to Chrysler’s Kokomo, Indiana, plants, which are its only transmission plants in the U.S. With the investment, $212 million will go towards new equipment in Kokomo, while another $62 million will go towards upgrading the nearby Tipton plant. The plants will manufacture Chrysler’s new nine-speed automatic transmission, which is headed for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, Dodge Dart, and the upcoming Chrysler 200 replacement, among what is likely to be a longer list front-wheel-drive-based vehicles in the future.
By the end of 2014, Chrysler should have about 7,300 employees working in the Kokomo area. Since emerging from bankruptcy, Chrysler has dumped more than $1.6 billion into its Indiana plants, a focal point for the automaker’s supplies. Other automakers like GM and Ford have plants dispersed, with much of their transmission production in Mexico and other parts of the U.S.
Chrysler’s strategy is different, perhaps relying on strong tax breaks from Indiana to bring jobs back. Regional diversification usually ensures no supply holdups should there be a natural disaster or a plant is taken offline. However, Chrysler has plants all around the world, courtesy of parent company Fiat. It may not feel the need to branch out to a new region since many of its parts will soon be shared with Fiat and Alfa Romeo vehicles. If the transmission plant in the U.S. goes down, start shipping from Poland.
It’ll be interesting to see how Chrysler pulls off its supplies, especially with demand picking up for its vehicles.
Source: Detroit Free Press