Autoliv has announced earlier that it is expanding steering wheel capacity at its location in Taubaté near Sao Paulo.

The expansion will allow Autoliv to double its steering wheel molding and assembly capacity in the region to more than one million units as well as expand die-casting capabilities for steering wheel armatures. This capital investment is expected to cost around US$9m.

This capacity increase positions Autoliv to take advantage of the expected 25% increase of light vehicle demand in Brazil over the next three years, the company claims. In addition, a Brazilian law mandating 100% adoption of frontal airbags in light vehicles will be phased in through 2014.

“We are excited about the opportunity to further improve our competitive position,” commented Steve Fredin, President Autoliv Americas. “Many customers prefer to source the steering wheel assembly with the driver airbag to the same tier one supplier, so we believe this expansion is an important enabler to capitalize on this tremendous growth,” added Fredin.

Autoliv began steering wheel operations at the existing Taubaté plant 12 years ago. The plant currently has 77 employees, and expects to increase to nearly 100 employees when the plant reaches full capacity. In total, Autoliv South America employs 1,100 associates at its facilities co-located in Taubaté and produces airbags, seatbelts, seatbelt webbing and steering wheels for the South American market.

“Volkswagen, Ford, Peugeot and GM are our largest customers in this market,” stated Tom Hartman, President Autoliv South America.

Recently, Autoliv announced it would also begin manufacturing airbag inflators at the Taubaté location.

“Increasing our vertical integration around our core competence improves our overall value proposition,” emphasised Hartman.