“We are honored to present the U.S. home of the automatic transmission,” said ZF Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stefan Sommer at the official plant opening in Gray Court on Friday. “This is an important step toward bridging the distance to our customers and having an even better opportunity of accessing North America, an important foreign market for us.”
The new US plant expands the company’s existing Saarbrücken production capacity of 8-speed automatic transmissions. The uS investment until now is EUR 300 million with a total of approx. EUR 450 million planned. “It is the largest single investment in the almost century-long history of ZF,” emphasized Dr. Konstantin Sauer, ZF Board Member responsible for finance and the North American region.
Dr. Sommer added, “We will be increasing the existing footprint by almost half.” By 2016, a total of around 130 000 square meters will be available so customers can be adequately served; consequently, the number of employees is expected to increase from 1 200 to 1 650. “We are very confident,” Sommer continued, “that in addition to our current customers, Land Rover and Chrysler, other automotive manufacturers will join in and benefit from the advantages of our 9-speed automatic transmission.” “Since around three quarters of all passenger cars worldwide are fitted with this drive configuration,” said Sommer, “I see great potential for our new product – especially in North America.”
The new transmission designed for passenger cars with front-transverse engines cuts fuel consumption by up to 16% when compared to a standard 6-speed AT. ZF’s commitment to professional training and to the region has been acknowledged by the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki R. Haley. He said, “We are very happy that ZF has chosen to once again grow its presence here in the Palmetto State. The company continues to show its commitment to professional training for its employees, and today’s announcement indicates that ZF sees South Carolina as the right place for its business. We celebrate ZF’s additional EUR 130 million investment and the creation of 450 new jobs in Laurens County.”