GKN Driveline’s joint-venture operation in China reported it completed an expansion program that nearly triples its capacity for producing automotive sideshafts. GKN Chongqing Driveshaft (GDC) is a joint venture of GKN, Huayu Driveline Systems Co. Ltd. (SDS), and China ChangAn Automobile Group established in 2006 to supply automakers in China.

The automotive parts manufacturer, one of four business units of the GKN group, has been operating in China for 27 years and has nine businesses and joint ventures employing more than 3,600 people there.

GDC has grown to cover 258,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and has added capacity for 1.5 million sideshafts per year, for a total of 2.1 million sideshafts per year.

GDC currently employs 310 people, with plans in place to grow that to over 400 by 2017.  

GKN noted that automotive production has increased by 404% in China over the past 10 years, and is forecast to grow from 22.6 million vehicles this year to 31.4 million by 2021.

A sideshaft is a mechanical assembly that connects a vehicle’s engine and driving wheels, conveying power and allowing steering angles while accommodating suspension movements and isolating vibration. Each sideshaft consists of two constant velocity joints — a fixed joint at the wheel end and a plunging joint at the gearbox end — connected by an interconnecting shaft.

Among the automakers the plant supplies are ChangAn-Ford-Mazda, ChangAn-Suzuki, ChangAn, JAC, Great Wall, BAIC Motor, and SGMW

GDC employs 310 people, currently, but plans have more than 400 workers by 2017.  

The project was announced in 2013 with a budget of 43.9 million, though now it is completed it has been valued at $48 million.

One strategic effect of the expansion will be localization of constant velocity joint (CVJ) production for a number of car manufacturers in Chongqing. With the project now complete, SDS plans to move its CVJ production for ChangAn-Ford from Shanghai to Chongqing.

“Our rapidly increasing China footprint allows us to better serve our customers,” explained GKN Driveline CEO Andrew Reynolds Smith, “creating more efficiency in supply chains with localized supply and continued high levels of service.”