General Motors Co. today is expected to announce a $55.7 million investment in its Toledo Transmission Plant to support an existing six-speed transmission and a yet-to-be-released eight-speed one that promises to be GM’s most technologically advanced transmission ever.
The investment isn’t expected to create any jobs. It does, however, support one of GM’s key programs for the future as the automaker works to meet new government regulations and increased consumer demands for higher fuel economy.
GM has poured two separate investments totaling $286 million into the plant since 2011. The first $204-million investment began preparing Toledo to build the eight-speed transmission. A few months later, GM announced an additional $82 million to upgrade the front-wheel drive, six-speed transmission that goes in some of GM’s most popular models, including the Ohio-built Chevrolet Cruze.
The newest investment will increase tooling and production capacity for the upcoming rear-wheel drive, eight-speed and an existing six-speed transmission.
The Toledo Transmission Plant on Alexis Road, commonly known as Powertrain, employs about 1,870 people, building six-speed automatics for front-wheel and rear-wheel drive applications.
Work is under way on the eight-speed transmission in Toledo, though full-scale production won’t begin for some time.
GM officials announced last month that the next-generation 2014 Cadillac CTS will be the first GM product to receive an eight-speed transmission. That car initially will use an eight-speed that GM is purchasing from a separate supplier.
It’s likely the CTS will get Toledo-built transmissions once they are available.
Additional gear ratios allow vehicles to operate more efficiently, delivering higher fuel economy. They also can offer a better driving dynamic for high-performance vehicles, such as the CTS.
Several manufacturers have eight-speed transmissions. Chrysler Group LLC uses eight-speed transmissions in many of its cars and trucks, including the Chrysler 300 and Ram pickup. Chrysler will have a new nine-speed transmission in the Jeep Cherokee, which will be built in Toledo later this year.
For GM, the Toledo-built, eight-speed figures to be an important component, though the automaker hasn’t said specifically what vehicles it will go in.
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