Chrysler Announces 2014 Production of Nine-Speed Automatics in Indiana

The nine-speeds are coming, the nine-speeds are coming! Chrysler has finalized its plans to invest a total of $374 million to produce nine-speed automatics in the U.S., under license from ZF. The lines start moving next spring. The company says that the move will create 1250 new jobs at the Pentastar’s closely situated Kokomo and Tipton transmission plants in Indiana, and will make the complex the largest transmission installation in the world. Chrysler Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne also used the announcement to note production has begun in Kokomo of the longitudinal eight-speed automatic for the 2013 Dodge Charger and 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The nine-speed transmission will quickly find its way into the Dodge Dart and the 2014 Jeep ChChrysler Announces 2014 Production of Nine-Speed Automatics in Indianaerokee (photos of the latter were released this week), and is scheduled to appear in “many” C- and D-segment vehicles. We’ve previously reported that ZF touts the gearbox as delivering fuel-efficiency gains of up to 16 percent versus a typical six-speed automatic. That’s due to the high overall gear-ratio spread of 9.84, and further amplified by the small ratio differences between each of the nine gears. This latter trait should help performance, too, as the gearbox is expected to keep the engine in the thick of its powerband, while the torque converter will lock at lower engine speeds.

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Want one? Be forewarned that early adopters may suffer from ratio envy: A Ford/GM collaboration and Hyundai are each working on 10-speed units.

By John Lamm