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.
“This significant investment is a reflection of Nexteer’s ongoing commitment to the Great Lakes Bay Region and the state of Michigan and recognition of the work being done here by our highly skilled technical and UAW-represented production teams,” said Robert J. Remenar, Nexteer president and CEO. “New, long-term customer contracts through 2018, including General Motor’s next generation full-size pickup, will add revenue that benefits all product lines, allowing us to upgrade and expand our testing, manufacturing and innovation capabilities.”
“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.
“Nexteer has been on an aggressive global expansion and investment path for the past couple of years,” added Remenar. “In addition to Saginaw, Nexteer has continued to expand its operations in India, Brazil, Poland, China and Mexico.”
Nexteer Automotive is a multi-billion dollar global steering and driveline business solely dedicated to electric and hydraulic steering systems, steering columns and driveline products for original equipment manufacturers. Its 9,800 workforce serves more than 60 customers in every major region of the world. The company has 20 manufacturing plants, five engineering centers and 14 customer service centers strategically located in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Nexteer Automotive’s customers include GM, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler and PSA Peugeot Citroen, as well as automakers in India, China, and South America.