German-based global bearing and automotive supplier the Schaeffler Group has opened a new factory in Taicang, Jiangsu province, the latest in a series of steps to expand its production capacity in China.

“We are fully aware of China’s future role among the leading economies of the world and strengthen our R&D and production network in China in order to support international and Chinese customers and supply them with state-of-the- art products from the region,” said a spokesman. “We have often stressed that production has to follow the market.”

The new 110,000 square metre facility is concentrating on needle bearings, wheel bearings  and other components for transmission and engine applications.

The plant, an investment of around EUR180m and employing 1,500 has 90,000 square metres available for future expansion.

Schaeffler has been in China for over 25 years and opened a 41,000 square metre plant in Taicang, about a kilometre from its newly inaugurated plant II.

About 1,000 employees in plant I manufacture bearings for industrial applications and engines.

The Schaeffler Group recently inaugurated a new R&D centre in Anting, Shanghai, which includes laboratories, workshops, administration, a centre of competence and a showroom.

Schaeffler has 63,000 employees at around 180 locations worldwide and had consolidated annual sales of EUR8.3bn in 2006). Group members are Schaeffler KG with its brands INA and Fag and LuK.