Official: Saab announces partnership with ZF Chassis Systems

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 21, 2011

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.

Press Release

SAAB AUTOMOBILE SIGNS INNOVATIVE SUPPLY AGREEMENT WITH ZF CHASSIS SYSTEMS

* ZF to set up sub-assembly plant close to Saab Automobile factory for supply of advanced front sub-frames and complete rear axles
* Greater quality control, reduced transportation and inventory costs
* Operations start with launch of all-new successor to Saab 9-3 next year

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile is advancing its entrepreneurial business strategy by initiating the establishment of a sub-assembly plant in co-operation with ZF Chassis Systems, a leading international supplier of driveline and chassis systems.

Located in Halvorstorp, just threekilometresfrom Saab Automobile's state-of-the-art production facilities at Trollhättan, the plant will be operated on just-in-time, lean production principles and supply front sub-frames and complete rear axle assemblies for installation in the next generation of Saab cars.

Under the agreement, the plant will be run by ZF as a subsidiary company, ZF Sverige AB, and is expected to employ about 50 people. Large sub-frame pressings will be stamped out at the Trollhättan press shop and taken to the ZF Sverige plant where they will be welded together and fitted with chassis mountings. Suspension and brake components will also be fitted to the rear sub-frames to form complete rear axle assemblies. All units will then be shuttled back to the factory for vehicle installation on the production line.

The operation of a satellite plant on the doorstep of the factory will bring ZF and Saab Automobile organisations closer together, facilitating the joint development of components and enabling close quality control processes. Transportation costs will also be reduced and there will be no need to carry large component inventories at the Trollhättan factory.

The Halvorstorp facility utilises part of premises already leased by Saab Automobile and signifies the company's new, entrepreneurial way of working with key suppliers. It will commence operations with the introduction of the all-new successor to the Saab 9-3 next year and carry out similar procedures for future Saab models, which will share Saab Automobile's newly-developed modular vehicle architecture. It is the first time a chassis supplier has set up shop on the doorstep of Saab Automobile's factory and the first time ZF has operated a facility in Scandinavia.

"This is a significant step in the development of our engineering capabilities," said Mats Fägerhag, Saab Automobile's Vice President Vehicle Product Development. "It gives us close access to ZF's world-class engineering expertise, which will become an integral part of our product development program. It is a win/win situation for us from both a business and an engineering perspective."

Going forward, the ZF Sverige facility also has the potential to supply components for other Swedish manufacturers. "We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Saab Automobile which will align two world-class businesses," said Dr. Peter Holdmann, Head of ZF Business Unit Chassis Systems. "We look forward to working closely with Saab Automobile and supporting its growth as an independent premium carmaker."

Topics: saab, partnership

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