Global braking and chassis systems specialist, BWI Group, has opened a new plant in Fangshan, Beijing to support demand in China for premium vehicles.

The 71,000m2 facility has started production of front struts and rear dampers for a Chinese joint venture with an unnamed premium vehicle manufacturer. A second, similar programme is due to launch in June.

"Demand for vehicles with higher levels of comfort and handling is growing in China," said BWI Group product line director for suspensions, Frank Robinson.

"BWI Group's strategy is to provide locally-produced technologies, manufacturing capability and world-class research and development support. We have developed a series of custom solutions for passive dampers that can allow vehicles to deal better with some of the driving conditions specific to China."

The Fangshan facility is the first in China to produce hollow damper rods, a lightweight suspension component that reduces vehicles' unsprung mass and helps to improve performance on uneven road surfaces.

The addition of the company's smarter valve designs can also allow dampers to deal more effectively with pot-holes and kerb-strikes and better protects the vehicle structure from large impacts.

BWI Group is ramping up production at the facility to meet high levels of demand from local customers. The facility will provide final assembly capacity of several million shock absorbers and MacPherson struts.

To ensure quality and productivity during the plant's launch, key engineers and managers spent six months at BWI Group's plants in Krosno, Poland and Chihuahua, Mexico, to study best-practice skills and methods.

Complete production of dampers, not simply assembly, is in-house. Key processes such as production of piston rods and reservoir tubes, chrome plating and cataphoretic painting are all performed at the site.

The introduction of advanced hot-forming and pressing techniques has enabled the elimination of some welding processes.

"By applying the combined experience of BWI Group's global network of production facilities and technical centres, our Fangshan facility will help premium vehicle manufacturers in China to localise more of their supply chain," said Robinson.

"We are accelerating the speed at which the technologies we develop can be supplied in China."