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Chrysler reclaims Indiana plant for 9-speed transmission assembly

2014 Cherokees to be redesigned with 9-speed transmissions.
2014 Cherokees to be redesigned with 9-speed transmissions.Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Chrysler Group has resurrected a its abandoned plant in Tipton, IN (about an hour north of Indianapolis) as the site for manufacturing its new 9-speed automatic transmissions. The parts, to be used in 2014 Jeep Cherokees and 2015 Chrysler 200s will then be shipped to the company’s assembly plants in South America, Europe and Asia. According to Fiat Chrysler, “ the 9-speed helps the mid-sized newly redesigned 200 get up to 36 mpg highway, 5 mpg better than the 2014 Chrysler 200 with a six-speed automatic.”

The 782,000-square-foot facility was originally built to house a partnership between Chrysler and Getrag, but plans for the project fell through in 2008 (before Chrysler filed for bankruptcy). It was later sold to be used for a solar energy project, which also failed to materialize, then re-bought by Chrysler last year for $162 million, and was officially dedicated on Tuesday. Although it already employees 204 workers, the company expects to hire more than 600 additional workers by the end of next year in order to produce an estimated 800,000 of the new transmissions annually. According to Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, the 9-speeds are a center point in the company’s quest to “improve the fuel economy of cars, crossovers and SUVs based on front-wheel-drive platforms.”