Getrag plant would build minivan transmissions

The $560 million transmission plant Tipton-area residents hope to lure to their city north of Hamilton County would make units for a minivan Chrysler plans to roll out for the 2010 model year, according to the Kokomo Tribune.

Production of Getrag transmission production would begin in February 2009, with an anticipated annual rate of 400,000 to 500,000 units a year, said Richard Torri, who represented the architectural firm hired to design the plant at a meeting yesterday of the Tipton County Plan Commission.

The commission approved the site plan for the project, which is thought to be the largest economic-development prize since Honda announced nearly a year ago it would build a $550 million car assembly plant at Greensburg.

The Getrag plant is a joint venture with Chrysler’s German parent Daimler-Chrysler AG, and would be located at the northeast quadrant of U.S. 31 and State Road 28. The intersection would be upgraded to handle traffic in and out of the plant.

Getrag hasn’t officially announced that it has chosen the site.

However, Torri, of the architectural firm Harley Ellis and Devereau, of Southfield, Mich., said in the meeting that Getrag is committed to the project. The transmissions will be mated to engines to be manufactured at a new engine and axle plant Chrysler announced Wednesday it will build in Michigan.

A contract to buy structural steel for the project will be awarded in less than two weeks, and another contract for site preparation will be let shortly afterward, he said. “There is a definite commitment,” Torri said. “The bid packages are specific to this site.”

The German transmission maker wants to use the Tipton site, which would employ 1,200, as a foothold to add Toyota and Honda as customers, Torri said.

Production positions will likely be represented by the United Auto Workers union.

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