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ZF Friedrichshafen AG recently opened its first plant for automatic passenger car transmissions in the United States. Located approximately 25 miles south of Greenville, S.C., ZF Transmissions Gray Court LLC will serve as the manufacturing site for the company's 8-speed automatic transmission (8HP) as well as the world's first 9-speed automatic transmission (9HP).
Approximately 1.2 million transmissions are expected to be produced at the plant annually, including 400,000 8HPs and 800,000 9HPs. Previously, the 8HP was only manufactured in Saarbrucken, Germany.
ZF has already invested nearly $385 million in building the new location and expects the total investment in the facility to reach $600 million, which will be the largest single investment in the almost century-long history of the company.
The 950,000-square-foot facility will soon expand to almost 1.4 million square feet by 2016, with the number of employees expected to increase from 1,200 to 1,650.
"We are very confident that in addition to our current customers, Land Rover and Chrysler, other automotive manufacturers will join in and benefit from the advantages of our 9HP," said ZF chief executive officer Dr. Stefan Sommer.
The new transmission is specially designed for passenger cars with front-transverse engines. Compared to standard 6-speed automatic transmission, it can cut fuel consumption by up to 16 percent.
"Since around three quarters of all passenger cars worldwide are fitted with this drive configuration, I see great potential for our new product, especially in North America," said Dr. Sommer.
For more information, visit www.zf.com.