The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

March 2, 2013

Chrysler adding 1,250 jobs in Kokomo

KOKOMO, Ind. — Chrysler announced Thursday it was investing $374 million and adding 1,250 jobs in Kokomo and Tipton to increase its production of fuel-efficient transmissions.

Once production begins on the new nine-speed transmissions, this area will house the largest transmission installation in the world, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told Chrysler employees, area politicians and members of the media Thursday morning.

“The decision to make these investments can be traced all the way back to those first weeks after Chrysler began operations as a new entity in June 2009, at a time when we faced widespread skepticism about our viability,” Marchionne said. “One of the key decisions we had to make was whether to simply buy a line of technologically advanced powertrains from a supplier or to build them ourselves ... It was clear that there was a burning desire within our own house to take as much control as possible over our own destiny.”

The path to Thursday’s announcement was not an easy one, though.

United Auto Workers Regional Director Ken Lortz said he clearly remembers April 30, 2009 — the day Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. The company’s future was uncertain.

Lortz thanked President Barack Obama for the faith he showed in the automotive industry by issuing a loan to Chrysler.

Chrysler employees and politicians alike erupted in applause. Gov. Mike Pence stood out as the only politician on the dais at the Kokomo Transmission Plant who did not clap.

He later explained his position on the government bailout.

“My position never was to oppose doing anything,” he said. “I was interested in giving companies a hand-up and not a handout. Chrysler went through a bankruptcy. What we were recommending were other ways to do it.”

Chrysler may not have survived without that bailout, though, said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“Chrysler could have failed,” he said. “They were in danger of disappearing completely. They survived by the skin of their teeth.”

But the company has survived to the point, now, where in some ways it is keeping Fiat afloat, Cole said.

He said Chrysler has made good decisions, including its decision to manufacture eight- and nine-speed transmissions.

“Everybody is moving to more-speed transmissions,” he said.

Marchionne said with more gears, these transmissions can run more often in their optimal speed ranges, providing better fuel economy and vehicle performance.

And at least temporarily, Chrysler will be the only automotive manufacturer producing these transmissions. Cole said that should give the company a competitive edge in the market.

“But victory is only temporary in this world,” he said.

Ford and General Motors are working together on eight- and nine-speed transmissions for their vehicles, he said. Cole expects those to be finished in the next year or two.

Still, Chrysler’s announcement is a big deal, Cole said.

“We’re seeing jobs come back,” he said. “That tells you things are getting better.”

Chrysler’s investment will bring 850 jobs to Tipton and an additional 400 to Kokomo.

It will take Chrysler’s employment in north central Indiana from 6,100 to 7,350 — a 20.4 percent increase in its work force.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said this will make Chrysler the state’s biggest private company north of Indianapolis.

“A short time ago, people thought Chrysler could not be saved,” Goodnight said.

Now, the company has made one of the largest economic development announcements in north central Indiana history, he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • NWS - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 272 Colts fans come from all over Indiana for training camp

    Under bright skies and mild temperatures, Indianapolis Colts fans turned out in droves to witness the first of this year's public practices at Anderson University's campus on Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • South Madison superintendent contract OK'd South Madison Community Schools officials Thursday unanimously ratified a new three-year contract for Superintendent Joe Buck, and approved textbook fees for middle and high school students.

    July 24, 2014

  • Brown awarded $25,200 settlement A federal jury issued a split verdict in the discrimination case filed by Jack Brown against the city of Anderson that alleged violations of his free speech rights and the American Disabilities Act.

    July 24, 2014

  • DSC_8125.JPG Auction teaches in business, farming

    After 10 years of 4-H, saying goodbye to his animals has become a simple matter for McKennon Heald. But he said he wouldn't be surprised to see some tears from some of the younger participants. He's been there.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Anderson, Alexandria and Elwood receive grants to tear down abandoned houses Three Madison County cities — Anderson, Alexandria and Elwood — received state grants that will be used to tear down abandoned, dilapidated houses.

    July 25, 2014

  • Arrest Log: July 25 Arrests made by Madison County law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on Madison County Jail records.

    July 25, 2014

  • What's Where: July 25 Local meetings and activities are scheduled Friday, July 25.

    July 25, 2014

  • Support breakfast at Cross Roads Through The Eyes of Special Kids will host its support breakfast from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Cross Roads United Methodist Church, 2000 N. Scatterfield Road.

    July 24, 2014

  • Accident.jpg Second person dies following Ind. 9 accident

    A second person has died from injuries following an accident Wednesday on Ind. 9. Clayton Crumley, 21, died at IU Health Methodist Hospital, officials said Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arrest Log: July 24 Arrests made by Madison County law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on Madison County Jail records.

    July 24, 2014

July Staff Photos


Buy and browse more photos from The Herald Bulletin

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
Auto Industry Book
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook