Chrysler/Getrag Transmission Joint Venture Ends in Chapter 11

November 17, 2008
Chapter 11 seems to be the theme these days in the automotive world, and Chrysler can only hope that its failed venture with German transmission builder Getrag isn't a harbinger for its own futures. Getrag's GTM (Getrag Transmission Manufacturing) LLC has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its Tipton, Indiana, facility that was to make dual-clutch automated manual transmissions for various North American Chrysler products. Chrysler has been offering the dual clutch transmission in the European-only versions of its Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring vehicles, and just rolled that transmission out in the new Dodge Journey last summer, but again only for non-North American vehicles.

Efficient, responsive dual-clutch automated manuals could ostensibly have been a boost in Chrysler's largely mediocre U.S. car lineup. Manufacturers like Audi (A3), Volkswagen (Jetta TDI), and now Porsche (911 Carrera) offer the transmission, which has been hailed as a significant automotive breakthrough. As opposed to waiting years for electric and E-REV vehicles, being able to boast about innovative approaches to efficiency like the Getrag transmission and clean diesel engines (which, frustratingly, are also offered in non-U.S. Dodge Avengers and Chrysler Sebrings) could really help Chrysler and its struggling dealer network in the here and now.

Getrag is careful to point out that the bankruptcy filing is only for its Indiana joint venture with Chrysler, not for any other arm of the company's operations. Getrag claim "termination of contractual agreements" by Chrysler related to the construction and operation of the facility in Tipton, Indiana. Due to Chrysler's actions, they say, they have been forced to abandon the project, and bankruptcy will enable them to "deal with all claims related to the project in an orderly and equitable fashion." Getrag is countersuing Chrysler to recoup costs, expenses, and supplier fees related to the project.--Colin Mathews

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