Chrysler Group LLC has announced that it is prepared to invest $72m in its Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg, Ohio, to produce new generation front-wheel and rear-wheel drive torque converters and steering columns, subject to the completion of incentive negotiations and agreements with the State of Ohio.

As part of the investment, 640 hourly and salaried jobs will be retained.

The new torque converters will be paired with the next generation eight-speed rear-wheel drive transmission being built at Chrysler’s Kokomo (Ind.) Transmission Plant and the all-new nine-speed front-wheel drive transmission to be produced at the company’s Indiana (Kokomo, Ind.) Transmission Plant I. The new transmissions and torque converters are a critical part of Chrysler’s strategy to meet fuel economy requirements over the next several years.

“We welcome this investment in Toledo Machining as it is an acknowledgement of the high quality components that have been produced by our skilled workforce for many years,” said Scott Garberding, Senior Vice President and Head of Manufacturing, Chrysler Group LLC.  “Being able to bring new technology to this facility secures its long-term future.”

“We are also appreciative of the support we have received from the State of Ohio in providing the incentives necessary to make this investment possible,” said Garberding.

The investment would fund the installation of new equipment and special tooling to modernise and enhance the plant’s capability. Work on the plant is expected to begin late third quarter 2011 and be completed in the first quarter of 2013.

“We’re very pleased that Chrysler is making the decision to invest in the Toledo Machining Plant and the skilled workforce there,” said General Holiefield, Vice President and Director, UAW Chrysler Department. “This will help preserve and enhance jobs in the area and give a greater measure of security to our members and their families well into the future.”

Toledo Machining currently produces steering columns for the following assembly plants: Warren Truck (Mich.), Belvidere (Ill.), Sterling Heights (Mich.), Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio); Windsor (Ont.), Toluca (Mex.), Saltillo (Mex.) and Carabobo (Venezuela).

The plant also produces torque converters for Kokomo Transmission (Ind.), Indiana Transmission I and II (Kokomo, Ind.), Sterling Heights, Toluca and London, England.