Chrysler expansion set
Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker majority owned by Fiat SpA of Italy, said last week it will invest about $374 million and add 1,250 jobs at Indiana factories to boost output of eight-and nine-speed transmissions.
Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne disclosed the investment at one of the factories in Kokomo, Ind. The transmissions and their additional gears improve performance and boost fuel economy.
“This is the sole region where we manufacture transmissions, and including all of the nearby facilities, it will be the largest transmission installation in the world,” Marchionne told workers at one of the plants.
Marchionne, who is also Fiat CEO, is betting he can meet regulatory requirements for increased fuel efficiency primarily by improving traditional gasoline engines with the better transmissions. The strategy takes less investment than developing gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
“With more gears, these transmissions can run more often in their optimal speed ranges, providing both better fuel economy and vehicle performance,” Marchionne said.
Chrysler plans to spend $212 million for additional equipment and tooling at its Kokomo Transmission, Kokomo Casting and Indiana Transmission I plants, which will create as many as 400 new jobs. Work begins in this year’s second quarter and will be completed in the fourth quarter.
— Associated Press
More Volts from GM
General Motors is planning this year to build as many as 36,000 Chevrolet Volts and other plug-in hybrids for worldwide delivery, 20 percent more than in 2012, sources said.
GM is planning to build 1,500 to 3,000 of the fuel-efficient vehicles a month. GM sold about 30,000 Volt and similar Opel Ampera cars globally in 2012, said Jim Cain, a company spokesman, who declined to confirm production numbers.
Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson has struggled to compete against more successful alternative-power vehicles such as Toyota’s Prius. The CEO originally touted the Volt’s gasoline-and-electric system as the technology of the future and forecast global Volt sales of 60,000 in 2012, before settling for half that amount.
The 36,000 target is “probably a doable number,” said Jim Hall, principal of consultancy 2953 Analytics. “It will have a full calendar year in Europe” and GM will probably sell more this year now that the Volt is eligible for the car pool lane in California, he said.
— Bloomberg News