GKN Automotive's Chinese joint venture, Shanghai GKN Huayu Driveline Systems (SDS), has officially opened a new technical centre in the suburb of Kangqiao to specialise in research and development of constant velocity joint (CVJ), All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and eDrive systems. The opening also marks 30 years since GKN established its automotive joint venture in China, the first Tier One supplier to do so.
Through SDS, GKN Automotive is expanding the engineering development resource in the region at the newly constructed facility on the outskirts of Shanghai. Around 300 jobs have been created at the facility, initially to work with customers in China on local applications of existing eDrive, AWD and CVJ technologies. The JV partners expect the centre eventually to have expertise and resource to project lead global new product development.
Substantially greater physical space for R&D will be accompanied by a "significant increase" in the number of specialist engineers, by nearly 50% over the next three years. It is anticipated the new centre will prove attractive to engineering talent in China as SDS wants to attract the best graduates in their fields to continue its success in this critical, huge market.
John McLuskie, president of GKN Automotive China, said: "The official opening of the new technical centre in Shanghai represents another step in a major investment programme in what is currently the most significant market for eDrive. Growth of vehicle electrification is accelerating faster in China than anywhere else in the world. GKN Driveline established the first Tier One joint venture of its kind in the country 30 years ago and SDS is set now to play a leading role in the next era of China's automotive industry."
SDS has already built a claimed market leading position in CVJs and driveshafts and continues to innovate and introduce advanced technology. The expansion of SDS' capabilities for eDrive technology will meet higher demand from new and existing OEM clients, with development and manufacturing initially serving a raft of new business wins – for electrified powertrains in particular. Engineers will have the opportunity to contribute to some of the most advanced eDrive systems in the world, including bespoke eAxle technologies that will be exported to clients' factories in Europe.
The joint venture is now targeting market leadership of eDrive systems in China and its significant investments in new production and development facilities will enable the business to take advantage of the rapid acceleration in demand for electrified drivelines.
Production of electric and hybrid vehicles in China is forecast to grow by more than 400% by 2025, to just under 4m vehicles per year. The scale of the SDS eDrive production hub in China will increase in parallel over the next seven years, with additional supply agreements set to commence for a range of domestic and international car manufacturers. GKN Automotive forecasts that SDS' eDrive production will reach 1m units annually by 2025.
SDS soon will also open a newly-constructed, eDrive plant in Pinghu, Zhejiang province, which will mark the beginning of a significant increase in manufacturing capacity for the joint venture.