ZF has announced plans for a new suspension components manufacturing plant in the Greater Hickory area - Newton, North Carolina. ZF Lemforder Corporation -- the car chassis division of ZF -- will operate the plant.

Construction on the 150,000 square-foot building will begin immediately, with opening expected during spring 2005. Total investment over time is an estimated $30 million and will create about 200 jobs.

"This new facility is a key part of our suspension components strategy in North America," said Jim Stacey, President and COO, ZF Lemforder Corp. Car Chassis Technology Division. "This new plant provides us with the space we need today, and allows the opportunity to add future business."

The new plant will create additional space within the suspension components division and increase efficiency. In addition, ZF is expanding its facilities in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Guadalajara, Mexico and the ZF Technical Center in Northville, Mich. Several states were considered for the project.

"North Carolina officials were very helpful in securing the project and we look forward to being a key part of the Greater Hickory and Newton communities," Stacey added. "The area offered us good logistics, customer and supplier proximity, a competitive technical talent base, and good quality of life."

"When we knew that one of the 15th largest automotive suppliers in the world was interested in Newton, we offered one of the most progressive and financially sound incentive packages the City has offered to any industry," said Newton Mayor Robert A. Mullinax. "This project could not have come to Newton at a better time."

"This is an industry that is growing, as evidenced by the significant growth in ZF's suspension components division across North America. We look forward to the opening of the new facility in 2005, and to a long and successful partnership with ZF," said Kitty Barnes, Catawba County Commission Chair.