TRW will add Romania plant on airbag demand

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TRW Automotive Holdings plans to open a new airbag sewing factory in Roman, Romania, to meet anticipated growth in demand for airbag cushions over the next five years.

"By 2018, we expect that an additional 12 million sewn bags will be needed. The new facility will support our airbag plants across Europe," Frank Mueller, the company's vice president and general manager for global occupant safety systems, said in a statement.

The plant is expected to employ 400 people by the end of 2014 and up to 1,000 people by 2017.

The plans reflect growing interest in Romania from both suppliers and automakers. TRW opened its first facility in the country -- a steering wheel leather wrapping plant at Timisoara -- in 2004. It opened a similar facility in Baia Mare, 373 miles north of the capital Bucharest, in January 2012 and last May announced plans for a fivefold increase in production there.

The U.S.-based safety systems supplier also has sites in Oravita, Lupeni and Marghita, where its activities include die casting, foaming and airbag production.

Another large U.S.-based supplier, Lear Corp. is opening a new seating plant in Iasi this month. The plant, which will employ an estimated 1,500 workers, will be the company's fourth Romanian facility. Lear also operates electrical power management and distribution facilities in Pitesti and Campulung.

Automakers operating in Romania include Daimler, Ford and Renault.

Last April Daimler announced plans for a new factory in Sebes, close to an existing parts factory in Cugir, to assemble transmissions for its Mercedes-Benz brand. The company has produced parts for engines and transmissions in Romania through a joint venture since 2001.

Ford makes the B-Max in Craiova, Romania's sixth largest city, and Renault's plant in Pitesti makes the Dacia Duster, Logan, Logan MCV, Logan van, Logan pickup and Sandero.

TRW ranks No. 13 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $14.1 billion in 2012. Europe accounted for 43 percent of the company's total global sales.

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