Production begins at Kokomo Engine Plant | News
Production of the GMET4 engine has officially started at the Kokomo Engine Plant with over 450 hourly employees.
On Friday evening, Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson told the Tribune that production officially began in late February. As production continues to ramp up, she said, additional employees will be onboarded over the next few months to ensure proper training and certification for all team members.
UAW Local 685 President Matt Jarvis said in a video last month that the onboarding of first-shift workers was initially delayed but was due to begin later this month.
The delay has led the company to temporarily lay off some workers at the Tipton and Kokomo Transmission plants who are being transferred to the engine plant, Jarvis said.
The company has onboarded workers throughout the year at the plant, which will retain about 1,000 jobs and add nearly 200 more. This includes some of the roughly 200 workers whose jobs were permanently cut earlier this year at the Tipton transmission plant due to the global shortage of microchips.
However, the hiring of first-shift workers marks one of the largest employee transfers since the integration began.
The new facility was slated to open for the first time in the first three months of 2021. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now Stellantis, said the launch was delayed until the final quarter of 2021 due to the business being closed for approximately eight weeks in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
In December, the company said the plant would not be open by the end of the year, but that workers were completing “process preparation and engine validation activities”.
The new plant represents a $400 million investment to transform the former Indiana Transmission Plant II into a new engine plant.
The new facility will be the source for all US production of the GMET4 engine, which is being built in Termoli, Italy. The engine is one of Stellantis’ most fuel-efficient and delivers 270 horsepower and 295 pounds of torque, along with low emissions.
It will also play a central role in expanding FCA’s electric motor options, as a significant number of new technologies can be applied to it.
This includes the new 8-speed transmission that will be built at local factories and can be paired with hybrid and plug-in engines.
The company announced in October that it was investing $229 million to retool the Kokomo Casting, Indiana Transmission and Kokomo Transmission plants to produce the fourth-generation 8-speed transmission.
Brad Clark, the company’s powertrain operations manager, said in October that the transmission is a versatile, multi-tool part that can be paired with hybrid powertrain systems used in the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge brands. It can also be combined with traditional internal combustion engines.
He said it will give the company the flexibility to adjust production as consumer demand increases for its growing electric fleet.