Hella North America will begin production of automotive headlamps in 2002 at a new $US20 million plant in York, S.C., according to Joseph V. Borruso, the company's president and CEO.

The York facility is one of only a few plants in North America to produce fully recyclable headlamps for the automotive market.

Annual headlamp production at the York facility is expected to reach 1.5 million units and the plant eventually will employ more than 100 people, handling orders totalling more than $US100 million per year.

The facility's production line, still in its start-up phase, is currently launching its first OEM lighting program for DaimlerChrysler and is also assembling various lighting components for Hella's aftermarket business.

"The decision to build this 120,000 square foot plant south of Charlotte, N.C., resulted from an intensive search," said Joe Brase, controller of Hella's Lighting Division. "We chose York because of its dedicated workforce, attractive surroundings and highly favourable business climate for manufacturers, suppliers and employees alike."