DaimlerChrysler Corporation (DCC) will invest $455 million in its Indiana Transmission Plant (ITP) in Kokomo, Indiana to produce a Mercedes-Benz developed transmission – the first example of component sharing between the Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz since the merger of Chrysler Corporation and Daimler-Benz in 1998.
DCC will expand ITP by 600,000 square-feet and will build the Mercedes-Benz ‘W5A580’ transmission for use in future Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep products. The five-speed, automatic, rear-wheel drive transmission, currently built in the company’s Hedelfingen plant just outside Stuttgart, is used in the current Mercedes-Benz S, E, C and M-Class vehicles. Starting in April 2001, the Hedelfingen-built transmission will be used in the European version of the 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, built in Graz, Austria.
The company will break ground on the new facility later this year, with production slated to begin in 2004. The new facility will have the capacity to produce 400,000 W5A580 transmissions annually. ITP currently produces about 400,000 45RFE rear-wheel drive automatic transmissions for Jeep vehicles and Dodge trucks annually.
Next year, it will double production of the 45RFE as part of its original plan. Approximately 1,700 employees work at ITP on two eight-hour shifts. DCC invested over $1 billion in 1996 to build ITP, which began production in 1998.
The W5A580 debuted in 1995. Its three-channel torque converter helps provide smooth ride and shifting, while reducing fuel consumption. The Hedelfingen plant produces 650,000 units annually for worldwide Mercedes-Benz production.