23 10 2018

SDS opens new Technical Centre in China and marks 30th anniversary of GKN Automotive joint venture

  • New R&D facility will work on localising GKN Automotive CVJ, AWD and eDrive technologies
  • First development will be Multimode eTransmission, for a Chinese automaker
  • 300 new jobs created, working across CVJ, AWD and eDrive systems
  • Official opening also marks 30th anniversary of GKN SDS joint venture
  • New eDrive factory in China opening soon to meet higher demand from OEMs

GKN Automotive’s Chinese joint venture, Shanghai GKN HUAYU Driveline Systems (SDS), has officially opened a new Technical Centre in the city’s Kangqiao suburb that will specialise in research and development of its state-of-the-art technologies for constant velocity joint (CVJ), All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and eDrive systems. The opening of the Technical Centre also marks 30 years since GKN established its automotive joint venture in China, the first Tier One automotive 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. More than 300 jobs have been created at the facility, initially to work with customers in China on local applications of GKN Automotive’s existing eDrive, AWD and CVJ technologies. In the future, the SDS Technical Centre will have the expertise and resources to be the project leader for global development of new products.

Substantially greater physical space for R&D will be met by a significant increase in the headcount of specialist engineers, boosting numbers by nearly 50% over the next three years. It is anticipated that the new, cutting-edge Technical Centre will prove to be an attractive proposition for engineering talent in China, as SDS seeks to attract the very best graduates in their fields to continue its success in the 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 now set to play a leading role in the next era of China’s automotive industry.”

SDS has already built a market-leading position in CVJs and driveshafts, and it continues to innovate and introduce advanced technologies. The expansion of SDS’s capabilities for GKN Automotive’s eDrive technologies 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 at SDS 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’ production facilities in Europe.

The joint venture is now clearly targeting market leadership of eDrive systems in China, and its significant investment 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 four million 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’s eDrive production will reach one million units annually by 2025.

Celebrating 30 years in China
GKN Driveline became the first Tier One automotive supplier to establish a joint venture in China in 1988, bringing the latest technologies in driveshafts into the market and building a leading position in CVJ systems. The introduction of eDrive technology builds on this proven history of successfully implementing new driveline technologies into China.

In 2013, GKN expanded its relationship with SDS to introduce the production of torque management technologies and all-wheel drive systems. GKN became the first Tier One supplier to design, develop and manufacture a complete all-wheel drive system in China in 2015 on the MG GS, and to date has produced all-wheel drive systems across nine separate programmes for a range of domestic and international automakers.

Within months, SDS will also open a newly-constructed, state-of-the-art eDrive plant in Pinghu, Zhejiang Province, which will mark the beginning of a significant increase in manufacturing capacity for the joint venture.

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