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ZF won't build new plant

POSTED: December 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.

An official with the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce confirmed Tuesday that ZF Industries will forego plans to build a new plant in Industrial Park West. Instead, the company will add a new transmission manufacturing line at its existing facility on Palmour Drive.

"They haven't abandoned their plans," said Tim Evans, vice-president for economic development at the chamber. "They're going to install the equipment in their building on Palmour Drive. They're going forward. The new building was a small part of the total investment."

It was announced in July that at least 80 new jobs will come to Gainesville in the next two years with the pending expansion.

The German-based transmission manufacturer planned to purchase 23 acres of property in Industrial Park West for a little more than $1.18 million.

The new product will be the company's first automatic transmission made in North America. It is a six-speed automatic transmission for commercial vehicles made by Nissan in Canton, Miss.

The company already builds transmissions for Nissan's commercial full-size pickups and walk-in vans made in Mississippi. The transmissions built here will be used in a new light commercial vehicle scheduled for production in 2010.

The company also manufactures transmissions for Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, John Deere, Tata, JLG, Bell and Harlo.

ZF announced a layoff at the Palmour Drive plant on Monday, citing sluggish sales for its customers in the heavy construction equipment and automotive business.

The original plans called for production to begin with 150 full-time employees, including 70 existing employees, by October 2010.

The initial investment, including construction and equipment purchases, was ti exceed $40 million. The value of the revised investment is not known.

ZF is a leading worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology. Headquartered in Friedrichshafen, Germany, ZF is among the 15 largest automotive suppliers in the world, employing approximately 58,000 people at 119 locations in 25 countries.

Staff writer Ashley Fielding contributed to this report.



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