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Chrysler confirms state investment of $374 million

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Chrysler Group LLC plans to invest a total $374 million and add 1,250 jobs in Kokomo and Tipton, the company confirmed Thursday.

The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker, which employs more than 6,100 people in Indiana, intends to spend $212 million retooling equipment in two of its three transmission plants in Kokomo and its casting plant in the city, creating about 400 jobs.

Chrysler plans another $162 million investment in a never-used factory in Tipton County that will hire 850 people to produce nine-speed transmissions.

Thursday’s announcement confirms tentative expansion plans Chrysler unveiled in December, when it said it was considering the investment.

Chrysler will post the job openings on its website, www.chryslercareers.com.

The company, majority-owned by Fiat SpA, has pledged more than $1.6 billion to its Indiana operations since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

Transmissions and other power train components have become a major focus for Chrysler as it looks to boost its vehicles’ fuel efficiency and grow its market share.

It finished 2012 with about 1.65 million U.S. sales, making up a little more than half the ground lost after sales plummeted to 931,000 in 2009 from more than 2 million in 2007.

The latest investment in Kokomo will add jobs to a city that saw unemployment surpass 20 percent in 2009.

Chrysler will occupy a factory that has led to multiple disappointments for Tipton. The 800,000-square-foot plant was built in 2008 by Chrysler and German transmission maker Getrag, but the partnership fell through before construction finished.

Loveland, Colo.-based Abound Solar received a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee in 2010 to expand into the facility. But the solar panel module manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in June.

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