TRW Automotive Holdings is starting production of electric power steering (EPS) at facilities in Anting, China, adding "significant" production equipment and manufacturing floor space to supply Ford and Mazda initially.

"Electric Steering is a rapidly growing technology globally due to the many advantages it can provide," said TRW's sales and business development head Peter Lake. "Creating a regional production base for our Asian customers will provide a cost effective source for these fuel-saving and emission reducing technologies as we expand the footprint of EPS for the production of global platforms and for domestic customers."

Over the next 18 months TRW will install lines to produce the mechanical gear, column power head assembly and electronic control unit to fully 'localise' column drive EPS manufacture for the region. Line capacity is expected to be in the range of 450,000 units annually with employment of an additional 170 people including engineering and other support personnel.

Nancy Gougarty, head of TRW Automotive's Asia Pacific operations, said: "The expansion of electric steering into Asia continues our efforts to bring all of [our] highly sophisticated product offerings to China and the wider Asia Pacific region. As part of locating EPS here, we will build an efficient and well-developed supply base to deliver cost improvements – essential to competitiveness and customer service. And electric steering has been recognised for its ability to help contribute to the environmental improvement efforts here."

TRW Automotive Components (Shanghai) (TACS) was established in 2002 and manufactures airbag electronic control units, crash sensors, steering gear assemblies plus anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC). TACS personnel will work closely with engineering counterparts at the supplier's technical centre in Shanghai to support the launch of local column drive EPS production.