It has been officially announced that Saab is partnering with component maker ZF Chassis Systems. ZF Chassis Systems will open a factory located only three kilometres away from Saab’s Trollhattan HQ. It will supply the new front sub-frame and five-link rear axle that will underpin Saab’s new Phoenix platform.
The Trollhattan press shop will stamp out large sub-frame pressings and these will be brought to the ZF Sverige plant, where they will be welded together and fitted with chassis mountings. Suspension and brake components will also be installed to the rear suspension to form complete rear axle assemblies.
These will be returned to the factory for installation on the production line. ZF Sverige AB will employ about 50 people. Transferring production of the front and rear suspension systems near the Saab factory will cut shipping costs and lessen the need for stockpiling.
Since the assembly of bodies as well as the suspension and the chassis are now done in Sweden, costs will be reduced. It will also minimize the exchange rate risks related to importing components from Continental Europe and the wider Euro zone.
In addition, ZF Sverige is seeking to supply components to Volvo whose Gothenburg factory is located south of Trollhattan and can be reached after a one-hour drive.
This new sub-assembly plant right next to Saab’s facility is expected to further facilitate joint development of components while allowing for closer quality control processes. This will also help lower transportation costs and it will not be necessary to have massive component inventories at Saab’s Trollhättan site.
ZF’s Halvorstorp plant – which partly makes use of premises already leased by the carmaker – will commence operations with the launch of the Saab 9-3 successor next year. The site will also conduct similar procedures for future Saab vehicles that will be underpinned by the carmaker’s new modular vehicle architecture. It marks the first time that a chassis supplier established a shop near Saab’s facility, signifying the carmaker’s new way of working with key suppliers.
It also marks the first time ZF operated a facility in Scandinavia. Mats Fagerhag, Saab Automobile's Vice President Vehicle Product Development, remarked that ZF’s sub-assembly plant is a significant step in the development of the carmaker’s engineering capabilities. Fagerhag added that the new site provides the carmaker with close access to ZF's engineering expertise that will become an integral part of Saab’s product development program.
He described the setup as a win/win situation from both business and engineering perspectives. Interestingly, the Halvorstorp facility could be a potential supplier of components for other Swedish manufacturers.
Peter Holdmann, head of ZF Business Unit Chassis Systems, remarked that the chassis maker is delighted with the agreement with Saab, adding that they are looking forward to working closely with the auto company, supporting the growth of its partner as an independent premium carmaker.