By Joe Toppe
In what ZF is calling the largest single order in their company’s history, the manufacturer’s new deal to supply BMW with an 8-speed automatic transmission is worth billions. Although production will not begin until 2022, the auto supplier will build them at their facility in Gray Court.
The technology has been in production since 2009, but the new line has been optimized by integrating an electric drive and hybrid variant.
In a press release issued out of Germany, ZF’s CEO, Wolf-Henning Scheider, said the trends to electrify passenger vehicles confirmed the company’s existing strategy.
“Our focus is on plug-in hybrids as an every-day solution,” he said.
Although BMW Spokesperson for Purchasing and Supplier Network, Saskia Eßbauer, confirmed the deal saying, “the release was aligned with us”, the company could not make any further comments.
As of now, there are no reports ZF will supply BMW’s plant in Greer with the new series, but the transmission can be installed in almost all vehicle classes with a front-longitudinal drive configuration, according to the release.
John Lummus, CEO of Upstate SC Alliance, pointed to the proximity of the region’s large automotive OEM’s, combined with business support and industry partnerships as key aspects in distinguishing the region and promoting expansion.
“ZF’s recent announcement opens doors for continued growth and career opportunities,” he said. “The quality of the Upstate’s workforce and training programs, coupled with our cluster of innovative companies researching emerging trends in automotive and electric vehicle technologies continue to drive that growth.”
While building the car in South Carolina is expected to spike the local economy, Michael Hankel, member of ZF’s Board of Management, stressed the new generation hybrid transmission also offers a flexible solution suitable to passenger cars, conventional or electric.
Because the technology supports CO2 targets, “customers see our technology as a sustainable drive solution for their vehicles,” he said. In addition, “the possibility to easily change from one transmission variant to another allows our customer the flexibility to react to market requirements. “
Before coming to South Carolina, ZF will start production at the company’s plant in Saarbrücken, Germany.