Stellantis is investing more than $150 million into three of its Kokomo plants as part of a retooling process that will see the plants build and assemble electric drive modules for the auto giant’s battery electric vehicles.
The auto manufacturer announced Tuesday morning it is investing $155 million across the Kokomo Casting Plant, Kokomo Transmission Plant and Indiana Transmission Plant to support the company’s electrification goals.
The three plants will be partly retooled so they can make electric drive modules (EDMs) for future Stellantis-made battery electric vehicles (BEVS). EDMs consist of three main components — the electric motor, power electronics and transmission — that are combined to provide an all-in-one solution for electric vehicle powertrains.
The EDMs will be used in Stellantis’ battery electric vehicles designed on the STLA Large and STLA Frame platforms, the company said, and are expected to give Stellantis’ BEVs a driving range of up to 500 miles.
Specifically, the gearbox cover will be cast at Kokomo Casting and machined at Kokomo Transmission and gear machining and final assembly will be at the Indiana Transmission Plant. Production is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024, and the company says the investments will retain more than 265 jobs across all three plants.
“With more than 7,000 employees in Indiana, these investments will leverage the core manufacturing competencies of the local workforce in the areas of casting, machining and assembly, all of which will be needed even as the market transitions to an electrified future,” Mark Stewart, Stellantis North America COO, said in a statement. “The city of Kokomo and the state of Indiana have been great partners for many years. This community will continue to play a central role in our efforts to provide safe, clean and affordable mobility solutions for our customers long into the future.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation said in its own press release that it is working with Stellantis to offer a “performance-based incentive” for its investment. The city of Kokomo is also expected to consider its own incentives. What those could be is unclear at this moment.
The production of the EDMs at the Kokomo plants will be in addition to the plants’ normal production, a Stellantis spokesperson confirmed to the Tribune.
Matt Jarvis, president of United Auto Workers Local 685, which represents roughly 5,800 workers at Kokomo, Indiana and Tipton transmission plants and the Kokomo Engine Plant, said he was “really appreciative” of the investments, especially since it diversifies the local plants as Stellantis pushes forward with electrification.
All-electric vehicles don’t require a traditional engine and multi-speed transmission. They also require 30% to 40% less moving parts than combustion engines. Those facts have created some concerns for the 100,000 people in the U.S. who, like the Stellantis employees in Kokomo and Tipton, work at plants that make transmissions and engines for gas and diesel vehicles.
“It’s a great announcement for membership to get our foot into the EV market because I think that’s the path the company is going down,” Jarvis said. “It’s a huge plus to get diversified here in Kokomo. … Hopefully, there will be more investments to come.”
Stellantis’ goal is to have 50% of its vehicle sales be BEVs by 2030. Kokomo will have a significant role in achieving that goal with the StarPlus Energy, a joint venture company between Stellantis and SDI, $2.5 billion gigafactory that will produce lithium-ion batteries for EVs.
Tuesday’s announcement is the latest local investment made by Stellantis in the last few years other than the EV battery plant.
Last August, the company announced it was investing more than $14 million in the Kokomo Casting Plant for production of a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The $14 million at the Casting Plant will be used to convert existing die cast machines and cells for the new engine.
In October 2021, Stellantis announced an investment of $229 million to retool Kokomo Casting Plant, Kokomo Transmission Plant and Indiana Transmission Plant for the new, fourth-generation, eight-speed transmission. Jarvis said the new transmission will start coming off the assembly lines in about 18 months.
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