Livonia-based TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (NYSE: TRW) Tuesday announced it will start production of electric power steering from its plant in Anting, China in support of the company’s expanding Asia Pacific customer base.

TRW said it would add “significant” production equipment and manufacturing floor space in support of Ford Motor Company and Mazda, initially.

“Electric steering is a rapidly growing technology globally due to the many advantages it can provide,” said Peter Lake, executive vice president of sales and business development for TRW. “Creating a regional production base for our Asian customers will provide a cost effective source for these fuel-saving and emission reducing technologies as we expand the footprint of EPS for the production of global platforms and for domestic customers.”

Over the next 18 months TRW will install lines to produce the mechanical gear, column power head assembly and electronic control unit to fully localize Column Drive EPS manufacture for the region. Line capacity is expected to be in the range of 450,000 units annually with employment of an additional 170 people including engineering and other support personnel.

Said Nancy Gougarty, vice president of Asia Pacific operations for TRW: “The expansion of electric steering into Asia continues our efforts to bring all of TRW’s highly sophisticated product offerings to China and the wider Asia Pacific region. As part of locating EPS here, we will build an efficient and well-developed supply base to deliver cost improvements — essential to competitiveness and customer service. And electric steering has been recognized for its ability to help contribute to the environmental improvement efforts here.”

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