Chrysler has named Tipton County, Indiana, in the US Midwest, as the site of a new dual-clutch transmission manufacturing plant with partner Getrag, the German gearbox specialist.

The $530m investment is the latest step in Chrysler Group's so-called Powertrain Offensive - $3bn in investments to produce more fuel-efficient engines, transmissions and axles. Chrysler has recently announced several new engine manufacturing facilities, mostly involving re-tooling exisiting plants.

"We appreciate the support that has been offered by state and local officials to help bring this investment to Indiana," Chrysler said in a statement.

"Together with our new partner, Getrag, our combined $530m investment in Tipton will create a state-of-the art facility to manufacture fuel-efficient, dual-clutch transmissions and reaffirm our long-term commitment to producing vehicles that meet and exceed consumers' demands for more economical-to-operate vehicles."

General Holiefield, the United Auto Workers vice president who heads the union's DaimlerChrysler Department, said: "This investment is a significant step toward realising our vision to see this company and our union grow this business and transform Chrysler into a stronger company that will be competitive for the long run."

Located on a 145-acre site at the intersection of State Road 28 and US 31 in Tipton County, Getrag will have "operational leadership" of the plant which will employ approximately 1,050 full-time Chrysler Group UAW-represented workers and 120 management employees from both companies.

The plant will produce 700,000 dual-clutch transmissions annually. Additionally, it will have a direct effect on 230 employees at Kokomo Casting and Kokomo Transmission who will be dedicated to producing parts for the new plant.

Construction of the 804,000 square-foot facility is scheduled to begin next week with production starting in 2009.

"Dual-clutch transmissions (DCTs) provide much better shift quality, driving comfort, and superior fuel efficiency compared to more conventional technologies such as torque converter automatics and/or CVTs," said Ulrich Kohler, vice president manufacturing at Getrag Transmissions.

"DCTs replace the energy-sapping torque converters of conventional automatic transmissions with two wet or lubricated clutches - one that engages first, third and fifth gear and the other that engages second, fourth and sixth. As a result, the transmission can deliver a five to 10% improvement in fuel economy."

The new transmission apparently will rival BorgWarner and VW-developed dual-clutch gearboxes used widely in European-made VW Group vehicles, where the technology is branded 'DSG' for Direct Shift Gearbox.

Getrag Corporate Group, with headquarters is in Untergruppenbach, Germany, claims to be the largest independent automotive transmission manufacturer worldwide with approximately 12,400 employees at 23 locations. The group supplies a wide range of transmission systems and powertrain components for passenger cars, SUVs, motorbikes and light commercial vehicles. In 2006, it posted revenues of EUR2.4bn.

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