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Fiat’s Acquisition Of Chrysler Good For Kokomo, State

Fiat aims to hold 57 percent of the third-biggest U.S. automaker by the end of the year.

fiat 500

Photo: Jean Mottershead (Flickr)

The Mexican built Fiat 500 is now being sold in American Chrysler dealerships, and Fiat has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its Kokomo Chrysler transmission plant.

Among the factors helping to keep Indiana’s economy stable during the national recession is foreign investment in the state—and much of that investment comes from companies bringing their manufacturing here.

Speaking on WFIU’s Noon Edition, Indiana Business Resource Center director Jerry Conover painted a positive picture of Indiana as a global resource for manufacturing.

“Manufacturing has always been a big part of the foreign direct investment scene in Indiana. It puts us up there at a pretty high level in the nation—I think we rank 8th nationally in terms of foreign investment over the last few years—that’s almost $5 billion worth—and a large portion of that will be in manufacturing-related jobs, and of that about 28% is in the automotive sector. So it’s a sizable commitment from countries all over the world.”

The Italian automaker Fiat began integrating rapidly with the U.S. automaker Chrysler after the latter manufacturer exited bankruptcy in June 2009; that’s meant that jobs at the Chrysler plant in the Kokomo area have continued to grow.

Conover says the Fiat-Chrysler merger is a good example of a foreign investment that continues to support Indiana’s economy.

“Fiat is investing a lot of money in Indiana expansion of facilities and upgrading of facilities that are pushing somewhere in the ballpark of a billion dollars in new plant and equipment,” he said. “The main focus is going to be an 8- or 9- speed automatic transition that will let the engine operate in an efficient range throughout the whole range of speeds, and as a result is supposed to improve mileage quite a bit—and they’re hoping consumers are going to be looking for that.”

Fiat started consolidating Chrysler’s financial results at the end of May. According to the Web site Automotive News, Fiat, which was initially granted a 20 percent stake in Chrysler by the U.S. government, aims to hold 57 percent of the third-biggest U.S. automaker by the end of the year.

Dan Goldblatt

Dan Goldblatt is the Multi-media Producer for WFIU/WTIU News. A graduate of Indiana University, he studied journalism and anthropology. He currently lives in Bloomington with his cat, June Carter.

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