DaimlerChrysler unit MTU Drive Shafts, which claims to be the world's largest manufacturer of passenger-car drive shafts, is expanding its business in the North American market with the creation of a new US subsidiary and manufacturing operation, MTU Drive Shafts LLC, based in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Charleston plant will produce drive shafts for automotive companies in the United States with a capacity for about one million units a year. This is about 75% of the current production figure of the existing drive shafts plant in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Rob Tykal, formerly technical director of the Off-Highway Division at Detroit Diesel Corporation (DDC), is president of MTU Drive Shafts LLC.
Tykal said the establishment of the US plant is important for North American-based car and truck manufacturers.

“Our customers expect just-in-time delivery and high flexibility.  By assembling the drive shafts here in the U.S, we are much better equipped to meet these requirements."

The Charleston MTU operation is located adjacent to a DaimlerChrysler Freightliner facility, which currently builds American LaFrance fire and emergency services vehicles.

Production machinery will be installed from April 2003, with series production starting in 2004. By 2006, the company plans to employ over 200 staff on three shifts.

Drive shaft business accounts for 11% of MTU Friedrichshafen overall sales.

“Drive shafts are a substantial part of the MTU product portfolio. Sales increases result from the DaimlerChrysler car business as well as, increasingly, from business with other manufacturers,” Tykal added.

MTU has a worldwide market share of 26% for passenger-car drive shafts.