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'What started as a mild refresh of the Ram 1500 quickly rolled into a best-in-class fuel economy and best-in-class capability gem,' said Ram Brand President/CEO Fred Diaz.

Saginaw's Nexteer Said Now Commanding Global Truck Steering Market

Local Firm Expands Steering System Sales for Full Size Pickup Trucks

April 15, 2012       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Nexteer Automotive, Saginaw-based automotive supplier, reports $10 billion in component sales in the past two years and forsees command of 90 percent of global truck steering markets.

Nexteer officials said the firm will expand its portfolio by supplying the 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 with its 12-volt electronic power steering (EPS) system.

In 2010, the company had introduced the 12-volt, high-volume EPS technology for the full-size pickup truck segment.

These "green technology" systems are said to improve fuel efficiency 4-6 percent.

Mike Richardson, Nexteer senior vice president of global steering business unit and chief technology officer, said that the 12-volt EPS system featured on the 2013 Ram 1500 is truly a significant technology milestone for the company.

"This technology has led the way for Nexteer's EPS systems to be standard on more than 90 percent of North American full-size pickups by 2013," Richardson said.

Since EPS tuning is software based, the vehicle's steering characteristics can be programmed and customized to each model based on automakers specific requirements.

"Our EPS system is rapidly becoming the steering system of-choice for global automakers for its advanced capabilities and cost-effective solutions for a full range of vehicle segments, sizes and classes," said Mr. Richardson.

"From compact cars to full-size trucks, Nexteer's EPS systems will be steering the global automotive market."

Company sources said that EPS systems can integrate with other on-board electronics to improve overall safety and driving performance.

Nexteer is recruiting electrical, software, safety and mechanical engineers to direct product development for further expansion both in Saginaw and Troy, Michigan.

The Chinese-owned onetime premier defense production firm is described by Automotive Business Review as "a tier one automotive supplier of wheel-to-wheel steering and driveline systems."

Nexteer announced in February it will hire 50 engineers to support the new 30,000-square-foot support center in Troy, Michigan, slated to open this month.

"Following two record-breaking years for new customer contracts, this latest customer service center will support new electric power steering (EPS) work with Detroit-based automakers," said Dennis Hoeg, engineering vice president.

The demand for EPS will continue to grow and by the end of 2013, 90 percent of newly produced full-size trucks in North America will be equipped with a Nexteer EPS system, he predicted. This portfolio spans sub-A segment vehicles to full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.

Increased demand for Nexteer's industry leading EPS technology is driving its continued expansion globally. Automakers are switching to EPS in their entire lineups as this green technology allows for a 4 to 6 percent increase in fuel economy, according to Mr. Hoeg, adding:

"This (Troy) location allows us to better support our local and global customers with critical electrical and software engineering talent, which is crucial for the flawless execution of new product launches."

The center will allow Nexteer engineers to work on application engineering projects and to coordinate commodity strategies. The space includes a custom garage that will be used to provide technical support for ongoing customer programs.

"Technical direction will still be developed at our world headquarters in Saginaw, and the Troy facility will serve as an extension of this location, as do our other 14 customer service centers located around the globe," added Hoeg.

Nexteer Automotive is a multi-billion dollar global steering and driveline business solely dedicated to electric and hydraulic steering systems, steering columns and driveline products for original equipment manufacturers.

The firm's 9,800 workforce serves more than 60 customers located in every major region of the world. The company has 20 manufacturing plants, five engineering centers and 15 customer service centers strategically located in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Nexteer Automotive's customers include GM, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler and PSA Peugeot Citroen, as well as automakers in India, China, and South America.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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