SAGINAW, Mich., Oct. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Nexteer Automotive, a tier one automotive supplier committed exclusively to wheel-to-wheel advanced steering and driveline systems, today announced a $150 million investment at its Saginaw, Mich., operations. Increasing customer demand for fuel-efficient electronic power steering (EPS) technology is the driving force behind the investment, which will result in the retention of more than 1,000 jobs.
"Nexteer is a showcase of Michigan's world-class technology and manufacturing capabilities," said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. "Today's announcement offers proof positive that foreign direct investment can combine with our own valuable industrial assets for new economic vitality for Michigan. This is the message I took to Asia: serious investors know Michigan's technology leadership and workforce advantages offer very real growth opportunities for all of us."
A major focus of the investment will be related to expanding and upgrading Nexteer's testing and validation capabilities. Nexteer is the only steering supplier with R&D, testing and validation capabilities entirely in-house. This complete integration provides a real benefit to global customers in terms of responsiveness and service. The company's Vehicle Evaluation Center (VEC), which is part of Nexteer's Saginaw operations, will undergo an expansion to allow for additional real-world simulations.
Nexteer's oldest plant (Plant 3), which currently produces pumps, will receive major upgrades with the addition of new high-tech EPS lines. Of note, approximately 45 percent of the sourcing for the EPS investment will be to Michigan based businesses. EPS is a key technology in assisting OEMs push to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. Nexteer has EPS systems on a full range of vehicle segments, sizes and classes, from compact cars to full-size trucks. In 2010, the company produced the world's first 12-volt EPS system for the full-size truck market.
"Nexteer is experiencing significant growth and demand for its EPS systems globally," said Mike Richardson, Nexteer senior vice president, engineering and global steering business line. "Less than 10 years ago EPS represented four percent of our annual sales, last year it was nearly 30 percent and by 2015 we are anticipating that well over half of Nexteer sales will be attributed to EPS."
Nexteer is the second largest employer in Saginaw County and currently employs 3,780 individuals. Technical staff and production employment at Nexteer's Saginaw operations has grown by 20 percent since Pacific
Century Motors acquired Nexteer in July of 2010.