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ZF's transmission plant near Greenville, S.C., will emp... ZF's transmission plant near Greenville, S.C., will employ 1,650 workers following an upcoming expansion. (Photo courtesy ZF).
In the age-old debate of whether government regulations help or hinder economic growth, here's one example where more rules have helped create American jobs.

President Obama ushered in stringent new fuel economy standards last year. Federal legislation mandates that the corporate average fuel economy standard rise to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Automakers are scrambling to update their vehicles with fuel-saving technology.

The ripple effect was felt in Laurens County, S.C., last week, when automotive supplier ZF announced expansion plans for a transmission factory that opened only last month. The assembly plant produces the world's first 9-speed transmission, which ZF says improves fuel economy by 16 percent over a more conventional 6-speed model.

Orders are stacking up for the 8- and 9-speed transmissions made here. ZF opened this facility in June. It was on pace to hire 1,200 employees here by the end of the year. Now, the German company will invest $215 million more into an expansion, and eventually hire an additional 450 workers, bringing its total workforce here to 1,650.

"Fuel economy is a key megatrend we see in all regions of the world, and with this product, we're well positioned," said ZF CEO Stefan Sommer.

Some critics had considered the MPG rule excessive, and doubted that automakers could reach the standard in the allotted timeframe. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said the rule would limit consumers' choices in the dealership.

But automakers are reacting quickly to the rule. Currently, this ZF factory has the capacity to annually produce 800,000 transmissions. Once the expansion is complete, that number will increase to 1.2 million. The Range Rover Evoque, which achieves an EPA-rated 20 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway, will be the first vehicle to receive the 9-speed transmission.

"Fuel economy, with what we're tasked with by 2025, we'll have to develop newer models and higher-tech vehicles," said Clinton Blair, vice president of governmental affairs for Jaguar/Land Rover in North America. "The 9-speed is a big step forward for us."

As the auto industry continues its migration south, this swath of South Carolina stands positioned to benefit from the changing needs of manufacturers, regulators and consumers. Outside Greenville, the South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center, which ZF sometimes uses as a testing facility, hosts 80 companies with global ties, such as IBM, Michelin Tire and Lockheed Martin.

ZP officials said they examined more than 70 potential sites in the United States when they initially picked this plot three years ago. Key factors in the company's decision included interstate highways, intermodal transportation nearby and easy access to the port of Charleston. The company also formed a partnership with nearby Clemson University and developed plans to start a technical college.

More than 250 OEMs have facilities in South Carolina that employ about 85,000 residents, approximately 5 percent of the state's overall work base, according to the state's chamber of commerce.

"We understand what it means to build new products," Gov. Nikki Haley said during an appearance at the ZF announcement. "When a company invests in South Carolina, we wrap our arms around it and do what we can to make sure they're successful."

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed @PeterCBigelow.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      what happens to the guys that make a 3 speed transmission, job less?
      • 1 Year Ago
      So the way to make more jobs is for the government to mandate product changes? You are idiots.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Just because you say something doesn't make it so. Here is an article explaining the benefits of government regulation that involves 5% of SC's entire workforce -- and because of your personal idiocy and hate, you try to turn sugar into something that stinks. I submit, sir, that it is you who are consumed by idiocy. Grow up. Be a man. Stop hating. I can easily imagine that if God came down from heaven in a dark skin, you'd probably call him the Devil. Seek help.
      • 1 Year Ago
      You can make car engines fuel efficient by only so much. Your cars about to get lighter and flimsier. Thanks Obama!
        • 1 Year Ago
        Says someone who doesn't have a clue about what he is talking about.
        • 1 Year Ago
        they're made to be flimsy Ace...... your car is designed to compact in a crash to dull the effects of the collision.... that's why they don't make Caddys with fins on them anymore...
      • 1 Year Ago
      So little to even talk about everything Obama so called invests in has failed all the green jobs what a joke The Obama organization new buzz word INVESTING you have to invest in America to invest more money on bridges to know where and when they fail Obama says that's the chance people need to take or else we will never prosper. WHAT ! is this how he balances his own check book by investing on loosing deals or just on the tax payers money playing Russian roulette vacationing entertaining JZ. going to Martha's; Vineyard escaping all the phony scandals as OBAMA CALLS THEM.
      • 1 Year Ago
      so more jobs, then higher prices for more efficiant cars, then we can get a second job to pay for that,
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ok, guys, first let's clear up the myth about the media supposedly being liberal. That's NOT a fact, it's simply another Fox "Not News" bullet point that morons like you parrot out verbatim every time you have the opportunity. The FACT is that the media is ultra CONSERVATIVE. Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch from Australia, who, next to Dick Chaney, is the richest, most powerful Conservative on the planet. NBC is owned by Sony, CBS by General Electric, and ABC by Disney Corporation, and are all the most CONSERVATIVE corporations in the world. And over 90% of talk radio in the United States has been systematically gobbled up by conservative REPUBLICANS since the early 90's, because they finally figured out it was the most effective campaign strategy that got Bill Clinton elected and reelected. As far as naysaying a significant improvement in transmission technology, well, you're all "Flat Earth" fools that can't accept reality. The earth isn't flat, and so what if the Germans came up with it? The 20th century was America's, and the 21st is finally forcing all of us to share the wealth a bit with the rest of the planet. The days of us pillaging and plundering, and greedily hoarding the spoils is OVER. That said, George W took the whole economy TOO far with FREE trade. We no longer charge reasonable tariffs on imported goods, but ALL of our major trading partners (China, South Korea, Japan, and ALL of Europe) still have high tariffs on our exported goods, and SEVERELY restrict the numbers of our goods that they allow to enter their borders. The biggest reason our jobs have gone offshore is because of free trade instead of FAIR trade. South Korea, for example, allows less then 9,000 US made cars to be imported, whereas we allow in excess of 1.5 MILLION to come into our ports, not to mention all the parts and engines that are still manufactured in South Korea, to be assembled in US plants. And please, don't even try to argue that we can't afford to get tough on trade with China because we owe them more than 2 trillion dollars. We STILL have the upper hand, because the US is still the largest consumer nation on earth. If we were to stop buying goods from China, where exactly do you think they could peddle those goods? Europe has such high tariffs for a reason; to protect their economies and jobs. They pay more than twice the taxes we do, but don't complain, because their schools are good, and produce workers READY for modern workplaces, public transportation is available, affordable, and available almost 24/7, and that they won't go bankrupt because they can't afford healthcare, if they get ill. True, no one system is hands down better than any other, but buck for buck, Europe's healthcare is the best on earth. And let's face it, most blue collar workers between the age of 25 and 44 are NEVER going to earn more than $250K a year, so quit worrying about those taxes, and vote in your own best interests in the next election!
        • 1 Year Ago
        keep drinking the cool aid Jim, at it'll keep your dentist busy.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Because you lie enough times doesn't mean you are right. Your Liberal ranting right from the Liberal playbook is factually wrong. The first chapter in the "Liberal Playbook" states, tell a Liberal any lie enough times and they will believe it. Liberal minions are not the smartest group. You want proof? Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, Reid. Jackson, Sharpton, and the list goes on and on. Your rant is as phony as Phony President Oblama.
        • 1 Year Ago
        I can never understand how people can write long blogs that are mostly not about the article they are commenting on. The article is that because BO raised the fuel effeiciency requirements ZF transmission developed the 9 speed transmission. Really? So this would have not been done had BO not rasied the fuel effeciency goals? Nice try Huff post. No conservative news source needs to tell me this article is a liberal spin.
        • 1 Year Ago
        You are woefully in the tank and at the bottom of the kool aid barrel. NAFTA had nothing to do with George W. That was a bipartisan push backed and signed by Bill Clinton. That fact alone almost completely nullifies the rest of your silly rant. That being said the media has been throwing soft balls to Obama since the 2008 primary. They killed Hillary over their new star Obama. Ask Bill in a quiet moment. Also Europe is going down the tubes. The ECB holds more sovereign debt then will ever be paid back. Great health care, yes. Bankrupt nations, YES! Get a clue and get your facts screwed on straight. You work for HP?? LOL.
        • 1 Year Ago
        I could pick this apart, but honestly I do not have enough time to read it along with other things that are useful. You have flat out lied. Let me make it simple, you have lied numerous times. If Europe and its health care is so great, pack up and move there. I am a European. There is a reason we live in the US now. America's government is not supposed to work like governments in Europe. That was NEVER the plan. Over 60% of the US budget now goes to handouts or "entitlements". More of those handouts go to the non working poor than the elderly or disabled. If you want to live in a nanny state head on over there and enjoy. I cannot get mad at you for living the life you want to live, but that is not what others want. It does not make them wrong or stupid to not want that either. I laugh at the liberals who say successful people are greedy and somehow owe everyone else for their success. To me it is far more greedy to feel you are entitled to the money that someone else earned than it is to feel you are entitled to the money you earned. I am not on this Earth to benefit everyone else. In fact by doing my part and being responsible for me and my family I have helped society. I have helped because I have not decided to make my responsibilities your burdens. You may think you want a socialist society, but once you get it you will see it is not what you thought it was. Selling our freedoms for false security is not the right answer. No, I do not watch Fox news or any other news for that matter.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Here's a book for you, Jim: The News Twisters by Edith Efron. And a follow-up: How CBS Tried to Kill a Book, also by Efron. Wealth is not some static quantity "pie" of which we are exhorted to get "our" piece thereof. Wealth is CREATED, and that "pie" is ever-expanding. Freedom is in the best interests of everyone---and I vote that way in every election.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Interesting how they have to build a new plant to produce these new tranny's,you can't tell me that the old ones can't make these with a little retooling so this is all BS on a very large scale.
        • 1 Year Ago
        You're right, Stan. There is no reason -- other than profit -- that those old plants can't be retooled to make these new transmissions. Conservatives -- i.e. big business -- would much rather keep ******* all the $$ they can out of their old plants, regardless of the carnage they leave behind. Profit in the future will be based on innovation and new technologies. Obama is the first president we have had in a very long time who has embraced technology as the path into the future.
      • 1 Year Ago
      South Carolina appreciates the additional jobs, however since any new technology generally requires half the labor, those building the transmissions elsewhere that are being phased out will be losing their jobs. After reading the story headline, there is still coffee dripping from my nose.......
      • 1 Year Ago
      Same old, same old. A little history. Years ago gas prices went up an people figured they should buy a fuel efficient car. So the Japanese jumped on it and start making cars using surplus WW2 four cylinder motors. They were junk but the West coasters bought them up. And it soon spread to the East coast. When the sheep got used to the higher prices they began to demand nore gas guzzlers. The auto industry complied. Everone knows the faster you go the more gas you use so the Gummint mandated the speedometers show no more the 75 MPH. So be it. The cars could still go faster than that. Now the Gummint is doing it again. Demanding the auto industry make fuel effieient cars. So the industry complies. Result? Use less gas. Right? So the oil industry sells less gas. They have to maintain profits somehow so they raise the price of gas again. The sheep take it in the neck yet again. On and on it goes. Washington's amswer? "We are doing this for your own good". Don't you just love it? I have a nice 2010 Buick. Never again. I see some really nice looking Toyotas on the roads these days. If I live long enough I'll buy one.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Stick with your Buick Paul, you'll be better off, and you won't be sending money to Japan!
      • 1 Year Ago
      100 Keystone Pipeline Jobs Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the number of permanent Keystone pipeline jobs is well below what both the government and oil industry are projecting. “Rather than bringing us energy security, it will transport dirty Canadian oil through America's heartlands - for delivery to China and other countries. Rather than bringing us prosperity, it will leave us with a legacy of poisoned lands and waters. All for, at most, 100 permanent jobs?" Beinecke said in January 2012.
      • 1 Year Ago
      And while this factory adds jobs, the factories producing current transmissions will lose jobs. This is not an improvement, just a relocation of jobs from one company to another. Claiming these policies create jobs is misleading and deceptive.
      What's Shakin T
      • 1 Year Ago
      Too bad it hasn't put a dent in record unemployment
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