"The order from Nissan is a major success for ZF and confirms our strategy to intensify business with Japanese automakers," said Wolfgang Vogel, member of the board of management of ZF and group executive of the commercial vehicle and special driveline technology division. "This opportunity furthers the excellent working relationship between Nissan and ZF."
The six-speed transmission will be the first automatic transmission produced by ZF in North America.
Frank Buscemi, a ZF spokesman, said the new transmission will be built at a new facility in Industrial Park West and the company will hire approximately 80 new workers for the line.
"We’re glad this is moving forward and that ZF has landed the contract with Nissan," said Kit Dunlap, president and chief executive of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
The transmission built here will be for a new light commercial vehicle to be built at Nissan’s assembly plant in Canton, Miss. The start of volume production will be in 2010.
The company said the selection is an important milestone for ZF and the Gainesville area. The current Gainesville location has been supplying the automotive and off-highway industries since 1987. More than 1 million manual transmissions for light commercial vehicles have been produced in Gainesville.
The Gainesville location houses North American production for two ZF divisions — commercial vehicle and special driveline technology, and off-road driveline technology and axle systems — to provide drive axles for passenger cars and light trucks, as well as transmissions and axles for off-highway and construction equipment.
The 210,000-square-foot facility employs 320 and posted sales of $308 million during 2006. Its customers include Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, John Deere, Tata, JLG, Bell and Harlo. In addition to supplying directly to manufacturers, products from Gainesville are shipped to ZF locations in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Adelaide, Australia.
While the new product is the first automatic transmission for ZF in Gainesville, the company produced more than 1 million automatic transmissions for passenger cars, light trucks and commercial vehicles in 2007.
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. The company employs approximately 58,000 at 119 locations in 25 countries, and totaled sales of $17.3 billion in 2007.
ZF operates an extensive manufacturing network in North America, combined with global research and development capabilities, to provide advanced technology to the NAFTA region. The ZF group North American operations headquarters and technical center is located in Northville, Mich.