ZF Transmissions, a global supplier of driveline and chassis technology based in Germany, will invest more than $175 million to expand its operations in Laurens County, South Carolina, opening the company’s first-ever passenger car transmission plant in the U.S and creating 450 jobs.
Part of the largest single venture in ZF’s history outside of Germany, the new plant will be the third expansion in four years for ZF, and brings the company’s total investment to more than $600 million in South Carolina. By 2016, the number of employees is expected to increase from 1,200 to 1,650, according to the company.
The 950,000-square-foot Gray Court plant is expected to produce 1.2 million transmissions annually. Previously, the 8-speed automatic transmission was only manufactured in Saarbrücken, Germany.
“We are honored to present the U.S. home of the automatic transmission,” said ZF CEO, Dr. Stefan Sommer, at the official plant opening in Gray Court on Friday, July 26. “This is an important step toward bridging the distance to our customers and having an even better opportunity of accessing North America, the most important foreign market for us.”
ZF Transmissions Gray Court, located in Laurens County, is the manufacturing site of the 8-speed automatic transmission, as well as the world’s first 9-speed automatic transmission. In addition, ZF’s new transmission is specially designed for passenger cars with front-transverse engines; compared to today’s standard 6-speed automatic transmission, it cuts fuel consumption by up to 16 percent.
“ZF continues to show its commitment to growth in South Carolina, and to professional training for its employees. Today’s announcement indicates that ZF sees South Carolina as the right place for its business. We celebrate ZF’s additional $175 million investment and the creation of 450 new jobs in Laurens County,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a RIF grant of $2 million for land acquisition.
"International companies such as ZF have made the Upstate a globally-oriented manufacturing center," said Upstate SC Alliance president and CEO Hal Johnson. "Regional investments such as the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Piedmont Technical College and Clemson's International Center for Automotive Research (ICAR) have helped us solidify the Upstate's position as a place that works with business to make them and us more productive."