Fiat Chrysler has pushed back the reopening of a shuttered Kokomo factory until late 2021, blaming delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Company officials had announced in March a $400 million plan to convert a transmission factory so that it could begin engine production within the first three months of 2021.
That reopening has been delayed until 2021’s last quarter, in part because of the company’s eight-week shutdown earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson told the Kokomo Tribune.
Older equipment has been removed from the factory and interior walls and offices torn down as part of the conversion project, Tinson said. Steel is being raised to add a 30,000-square-foot (2,787-square-meter) addition to provide more manufacturing space.
Fiat Chrysler said it plans to make the factory about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Indianapolis into the U.S. production site for the Global Medium Engine Turbo 4 for Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees, which is now built in Italy.
Officials said the project would retain about 1,000 jobs and add nearly 200, bringing the total Fiat Chrysler workforce at its Kokomo-area factories to more than 8,000.
Brad Clark, vice president and head of engine and transmission manufacturing for FCA
North America, said in March the Kokomo plant had made nearly 4 million transmissions from 2003 to 2018, when the company began to shutter the facility. It sat idle for a few months before the conversion work started.