Power steering components and systems supplier China Automotive Systems (CAAS) on Friday announced it had begun shipments to its first global OEM customer, Chrysler Group.

This follows the November 2008 contract from Chrysler for power steering gears shipped to a North American assembly plant. Deliveries - for the Jeep Wrangler off-roader, actually began in mid-2009.

At a ceremony that included the ground breaking for the new CAS Henglong research and development centre, Chrysler's director of supplier quality for China and Taiwan, Peter Zhou, presented CAS a Proof of Certified Supplier certificate.

Chrysler conducted an initial screen and review of CAAS's research and development capacity, quality control and production capabilities as part of the supplier development process. CAAS and Chrysler next created a framework for their future joint development. The company successfully passed several product evaluations and road tests resulting in Chrysler accepting the aupplier's power steering gears and issuing a purchase order.

CAAS chairman Hanlin Chen said: "We are very excited about our strengthening relationship with Chrysler and the deep potential for the vast North American OEM market. Chrysler's order boosted our confidence to continue to develop and produce reliable power steering systems reaching the highest quality standards required by the world's most sophisticated auto manufacturers."

CAAS also announced it had begun production of its electronic power steering (EPS) system. the first of its type developed within China. It supplies this EPS system, at a rate of 2,000 units a month, to a Suzuki Auto assembly plant in China.

CAAS CEO Qizhou Wusaid: "We are also very pleased about the steady commercialisation progress of our EPS products. Given the benefit of improving overall fuel efficiency, EPS systems are widely adopted by OEMs in Europe and gradually expanding market share in the US OEM market.

"Although EPS systems are relatively new in China, we see great potential for EPS in China, the world's largest automotive market. We are proud to be the first Chinese power steering producer to introduce a domestically designed and manufactured product to compete with imported systems in the fast growing Chinese automotive market."