Schaeffler has declared its new bearings plant in Mexico open for business.

Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, joined Schaeffler Group owners Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and her son Georg F.W. Schaeffler in a festive ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the new manufacturing plant in Irapuato.

Other guests of honour included federal ministers, customers, Governor of the State of Guanajuato, Juan Manuel Oliva Ramirez, and Germany's Ambassador to Mexico, Roland Wegener.

"In recent years, Mexico has undergone a remarkably dynamic economic transformation. Today, with one million in annual vehicles sales, Mexico not only represents Latin America's second-largest automotive market, but also constitutes a vital manufacturing base for North America, as two million cars are produced here every year," said Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler. 

"Mexico's contributions are a key factor in the success of the Schaeffler Group and the company is committed to nurturing this trend."

Bruce Warmbold, chief executive officer of Schaeffler North America, said that this was why the Schaeffler Group decided to invest in a second Mexican production facility, as it allows the company to strengthen its market position and provide its North American customers with even more immediate access to its products.

The new Irapuato facility is expected to initially employ approximately 400 new Schaeffler employees and will manufacture INA and FAG-branded products for the automotive and industrial sectors, including various types of rolling bearings and engine and chassis components.

Together with its existing LuK plant in Puebla and its Mexico City-based sales organisation, the Schaeffler Group will have approximately 1,000 employees in Mexico. On the eve of the official grand opening, the company also hosted an open house for all employees and their families in Irapuato.