Component suppliers form a huge part of the automotive industry, and few are as big – or as old – as ZF. The German consortium dates back nearly a century, and today has some 123 factories in 27 countries. Make that 124 in 28, now, as the company has announced plans for a new facility to be built with – and for – Saab.
The sub-assembly plant near Saab's main facility in Trolhättan (pictured above) will employ around 50 people and supply front sub-frames and complete rear axles to the Swedish automaker as part of the upcoming new Phoenix platform. The Phoenix groundwork is expected to underpin the next generation of Saab vehicles, starting with the all-new 9-3.
The new flexible vehicle architecture is loosely based on the current GM Epsilon platform, currently used in the 9-3. The automaker's official announcement is yours for the reading after the jump.
SAAB AUTOMOBILE SIGNS INNOVATIVE SUPPLY AGREEMENT WITH ZF CHASSIS SYSTEMS
* ZF to set up sub-assembly plant close to Saab Automobile factory for supply of advanced front sub-frames and complete rear axles
* Greater quality control, reduced transportation and inventory costs
* Operations start with launch of all-new successor to Saab 9-3 next year
Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile is advancing its entrepreneurial business strategy by initiating the establishment of a sub-assembly plant in co-operation with ZF Chassis Systems, a leading international supplier of driveline and chassis systems.
Located in Halvorstorp, just threekilometresfrom Saab Automobile's state-of-the-art production facilities at Trollhättan, the plant will be operated on just-in-time, lean production principles and supply front sub-frames and complete rear axle assemblies for installation in the next generation of Saab cars.
Under the agreement, the plant will be run by ZF as a subsidiary company, ZF Sverige AB, and is expected to employ about 50 people. Large sub-frame pressings will be stamped out at the Trollhättan press shop and taken to the ZF Sverige plant where they will be welded together and fitted with chassis mountings. Suspension and brake components will also be fitted to the rear sub-frames to form complete rear axle assemblies. All units will then be shuttled back to the factory for vehicle installation on the production line.
The operation of a satellite plant on the doorstep of the factory will bring ZF and Saab Automobile organisations closer together, facilitating the joint development of components and enabling close quality control processes. Transportation costs will also be reduced and there will be no need to carry large component inventories at the Trollhättan factory.
The Halvorstorp facility utilises part of premises already leased by Saab Automobile and signifies the company's new, entrepreneurial way of working with key suppliers. It will commence operations with the introduction of the all-new successor to the Saab 9-3 next year and carry out similar procedures for future Saab models, which will share Saab Automobile's newly-developed modular vehicle architecture. It is the first time a chassis supplier has set up shop on the doorstep of Saab Automobile's factory and the first time ZF has operated a facility in Scandinavia.
"This is a significant step in the development of our engineering capabilities," said Mats Fägerhag, Saab Automobile's Vice President Vehicle Product Development. "It gives us close access to ZF's world-class engineering expertise, which will become an integral part of our product development program. It is a win/win situation for us from both a business and an engineering perspective."
Going forward, the ZF Sverige facility also has the potential to supply components for other Swedish manufacturers. "We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Saab Automobile which will align two world-class businesses," said Dr. Peter Holdmann, Head of ZF Business Unit Chassis Systems. "We look forward to working closely with Saab Automobile and supporting its growth as an independent premium carmaker."