The Stellantis Announcement That Is Shaking Up the EV Industry
Just a few weeks ago, Stellantis N.V. announced that it will be investing $229 million in three Kokomo, Indiana plans to advance the company’s commitment to emerging technologies. Formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Stellantis has made no secret of its plans for producing a lineup of all-electric vehicles in the future. This announcement is the latest indication that the automaker is living up to the promises made upon the January merger between FCA and the French PSA Group.
Stellantis may not be the only company in the industry dedicating resources to EV evolution, but it is certainly at the forefront. We already see the development of low-emission technology being used in brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Fiat. But this is apparently only the beginning. Below, Mount Airy CDJRF discusses the most recent Stellantis announcement in more detail, as well as other steps the company is taking toward an all-electric future.
The Three Indiana Plants
The $229 million investment in the three Indiana plants will specifically fund retooling for the production of electric eight-speed transmissions for various Stellantis brands. These cutting-edge transmissions are being created for use in internal combustion, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The company is planning for 40% of its U.S. vehicle sales to be low-emission by 2030, which will include a mix of gas-powered, hybrid, and all-electric vehicles.
This is how Stellantis Head of Powertrain Operations, Brad Clark, summed up the investment:
This investment and this transmission represent an important stepping stone in getting us to 2030 and further expanding our battery-electric offerings…The new transmission is a versatile one that can be adapted for a variety of applications, allowing us the flexibility to adjust our production as consumer demand for electrified vehicles grows over the next decade. It also offers consumers the opportunity to get familiar with this technology and explore all of the benefits that can come from electrification.
Three plants that will be retooling for Stellantis’ fourth-generation eight-speed transmission are the Kokomo Transmission, Indiana Transmission, and Kokomo Casting facilities. A wide range of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram models will use these transmissions in the near future. Stellantis has pointed out that the three plants employ thousands of workers. Here is a breakdown of each plant’s workforce:
• Kokomo Transmission: 3,280
• Indiana Transmission: 1,473
• Kokomo Casting: 1,238
Vice President of United Auto Workers, Cindy Estrada, is in charge of the UAW-Stellantis department. She suggested in a company statement that hard work and exceptional quality have spurred the investment in the Hoosier plants:
During the 2019 negotiations, the UAW negotiators made it a priority that as we transition into the next generation of vehicles and powertrains the UAW members must continue to build these great products…The commitment to building these multi-tool transmissions will enable Kokomo UAW members to continue the quality transmissions used in today’s gas and hybrid technology while preparing for electric vehicles and new technologies far into the future.
UAW Region 2B Director, Wayne Blanchard, has touted the involvement of the workers in the Stellantis transformation as vital. In an interview with Indiana Public Radio, Blanchard said, “It’s the UAW members that are touching that steel, pressing those buttons on those machines, and putting those components in those transmissions and the engines that are making this possible. And it’s a testament that we got a good workforce here in Kokomo, Indiana.”
The Kokomo plant builds the eight-speed transmission found in current Ram 1500, Dodge Durango, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, and Chrysler 300 models. Several Jeep models use the transmission, including the Gladiator, Grand Cherokee, Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, and Wrangler.
The new (fourth-generation) transmission is supposed to perform even better than the current one. Stellantis has claimed that, along with pushing the company toward its low emission goals and meeting future government regulations, the transmission will provide better fuel economy and pure-electric range.
The Bigger Picture
As substantial as the $229 investment in the Indiana plants might be, it’s only part of a much larger vision for Stellantis. Last year, the company (then FCA) announced a $400 million investment to develop an engine in Indiana for the first time, and that project is set to start in the coming months.
Earlier this month, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed an agreement with several other midwest governors to fund a charging station network, which is a good omen that more low-emission developments are on the horizon.
On the matter, Holcomb stated: “Racing’s in our blood, we like to be in the pole position. We have such a rich heritage and past in the automotive industry. To think about where we want to be in 10, 20, 30 years when Stellantis does celebrate its 100th anniversary, we have to make a decision—policy decisions today to remain an attractive ecosystem.”
The EV Future of Stellantis
The auto industry is undeniably moving toward an all-electric future, and even the most notorious gas-guzzling vehicles will become electrified at some point. Stellantis understands the inevitability and is dedicated to competing with—if not surpassing—rivals going forward.
One of the primary reasons the FCA and PSA merger went through is because Stellantis vowed to put significant time, energy, and money into growing its brands and putting them on track to electrification. Stellantis officials have implied that the company will be investing around $36 billion between now and 2025—funds that will be designated solely for future all-electric developments, EV software, and other electrification-related initiatives.
We have already seen the new Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, and the automaker will soon release the Grand Cherokee 4xe with other Jeep models to follow suit. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has slated Jeep as the brand to start the electrification revolution; plans are set for a 2023 all-electric Jeep model, and every Jeep model should offer a battery-electric powertrain option by 2025.
The company’s strategy is to produce fully electric models in most segments by 2025 and in all segments by 2030. The highly anticipated 2022 GMC Hummer EV is almost here, and the all-electric Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck is coming in 2024, as is an electric Dodge muscle car.
In other words, Stellantis is dead-set on not getting passed by in the race to the future. The automaker knows that its competitors will be hot on its heels, and it much prefers that over biting the dust of its rivals. So, what specific steps is Stellantis taking to blaze the electrification trail in the auto industry? It comes down to accelerating plans and investing big bucks in manufacturing facilities, platforms, technology, and batteries.
The investments in producing the engines and transmissions in Indiana are not the only plans Stellantis has released to the public concerning the foreseeable future. Tavares sees this time as an opportunity to “reset the clock,” as he put it to investors on a virtual broadcast that centered around the EV strategy set forth by the company.
The overarching goal for Stellantis is 98% of all new models to be electrified by 2025, which is where the $36 billion comes in. The updated business plan outlines the details of reaching the point where the vast majority of Stellantis’ new vehicles are battery electrics by that time, though some will still be plug-in hybrids.
By 2025, the company is aiming to produce 55 electrified vehicles in the United States and Europe, and it hopes for its plug-in hybrid and battery-electric models to make up 40 percent of sales in North America (70 percent in Europe) by 2030. While there is no date set in stone, the automaker wants to offer a competitive lineup in the China market as well.
Four EV Platforms
One tangible step Stellantis has taken to progress toward its electrification goals is by developing platforms specifically dedicated to EVs. As of now, engineers have created four such platforms: STLA Small, STLA Medium, STLA Large, and STLA Frame.
The various platforms ensure that the structure is established for building EVs in every size, shape, and type. This means that every model—from Ram trucks and commercial vans to Fiat subcompacts—will have the foundation for electrification. The latter is quite the lucrative segment; Ford is currently leading the charge in commercial vans on a global scale, and Stellantis will soon release its hydrogen fuel cell medium-sized van in hopes to take the lead.
An EV platform will not be practical unless it guarantees a significant driving range for consumers. With that in mind, Stellantis has stated the estimated full-charge driving range of each of the four platforms:
• Small STLA: 300 miles
• Medium STLA : 440 miles
• Large STLA and Frame STLA: 500 miles
Many different types and numbers of battery packs should be accommodated by the flexible platforms, from 37 to 200 kWh capacities. The company anticipates its performance models will be primed for a 2.0-second zero to 60 and provide 200 miles of range from a 10-minute quick charge.
By the Brand
Many brands fall under the Stellantis umbrella—14, to be exact. The automaker has not released electrification details about every brand but has provided taglines for them. For example, they have described future Chrysler vehicles as providing “clean technology for a new generation of families,” implying that it will stay focused on SUVs and minivans. On the other end of the spectrum, Stellantis is using the tagline “the best in performance luxury, electrified” to tout the future of Maserati.
German brand Opel already offers nine electrified models, and the plan is for its entire lineup to consist of electrified vehicles by 2024. And Fiat is also on the path to transitioning all of its vehicles from internal combustion to electric engines, with the goal being an all-electric brand by 2030. Moreover, plans are in place for an all-electric Abarth lineup beginning in 2024.
The Battery Solution
Finally, another critical part of the Stellantis electrification strategy is to develop a solid-state battery by 2026. This process is already in the works, as the company is currently underway on a dual-chemistry battery solution. The solution utilizes NiCo-free battery chemistry—meaning it contains no nickel or cobalt—along with a high energy-density nickel-based battery.
Stellantis is planning to open five battery factories globally. The first three plants will be built in France, Germany, and Italy, with the other two facilities opening in North America at a later, undisclosed date. By 2025, a combined 130-gigawatt hour of battery capacity will be produced in the plants, and the capacity produced will double that number among the plants by 2030.
The future looks bright for Stellantis and all the drivers who will be buying its wide-ranging lineup of vehicles down the road. By investing in innovation at American plants, the automaker is not only putting its money where its mouth is for the environment but also helping to retain the jobs of some of the world’s hardest workers.
We can expect to see more hybrid and all-electric vehicles hitting the market over the next few years. But until then, don’t forget to come by Mount Airy CDJRF to experience the low-emission models we already have!