ZKW has opened a new production plant in Silao, Mexico to produc high-quality main headlights for premium automobile manufacturers in the NAFTA region.

The company plans to create around 320 jobs in the region by 2018.

"Opening this plant is a great step for ZKW. For the first time we have a production plant in the NAFTA region and are consequently opening up a new continent for our business. We are thus not only increasing our global footprint, but, in accordance with our strategy, also following our customers into new markets," said CEO Oliver Schubert.

"Opening this plant is a further milestone in the success story of an Austrian company which, as a family business, has developed into a worldwide manufacturer of premium headlights. The plant in Mexico will mark the start of a new era for ZKW."

After breaking ground in October 2014, the supplier has opened the first stage on the 116,700 square metre site. The initial production hall covers 21,900 square metres and includes offices. The plant will be equipped with innovative technologies for producing high-quality automotive lighting systems. Plastic injection machines, hard coating systems for coating plastic headlight diffusers, metallising systems for metallising reflectors, paint lines and assembly lines will operate in the future. Pre-series production of premium main headlights has already begun and full capacity for around 700,000 headlights a year is scheduled to be reached by 2019.

"The investment for the current construction stage of approximately US$70m has been guaranteed. By 2019 the plant's planned annual sales will rise to around $86.5m," said Schubert.

The new plant is situated in the GTO Puerto Interior Business Park in Silao – in a central location and near to car manufacturers in the NAFTA region. Mexico also offers various free trade agreements, and thus important customs advantages. "The business park provides an ideal environment for our production plant, because it is located at the heart of an up-and-coming region that promises success. The decision to locate ourselves here was totally correct," said Schubert.

Miguel Marquez Marquez, governor of Guanajuato said: "The Puerto Interior Business Park already accommodates 147 foreign companies which are playing an important role in the upswing in the region."

"The Guanajuato region offers outstanding conditions for attracting employees, because there are almost 30,000 students on some 130 different courses, many of whom we can talk to as potential staff," said Schubert.

Guanajuato is regarded as one of the economically most dynamic federal states in Mexico with above-average growth rates.

"The investments of companies like ZKW create new jobs and training posts. They also enable many students to pursue careers abroad," said Marquez of the importance of the companies that have become established.

ZKW Group is one of the world's leading providers of lighting and headlight systems for the automotive industry. The group designs and produces complex premium lighting and electronic modules for international automakers and its top products include powerful and cost-efficient complete LED systems. The group has eight locations worldwide which are networked intelligently in development and production. In 2015 the group employed 5,800 people and generated overall sales of around EUR800m. Almost all production is exported.

Customers include Audi, VW, BMW, Porsche, Daimler, Opel, Skoda, Volvo Car, MAN, Scania Truck and Volvo Truck.