American Axle plans tech center in Detroit

American Axle CEO David Dauch said he expects that some of American Axle's vendors will assign engineers to the technical center. Photo credit: Greg Horvath

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. plans to build a technical center at its Detroit headquarters to develop prototype components and to test manufacturing lines, CEO David Dauch said.

During his presentation at the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars today, Dauch said the company will spend $15 million to $20 million on the center, which will employ 75 to 100 people.

“We’re really excited about what we’re doing for Detroit,” Dauch said on the sidelines of the conference. “We’re going to be an anchor tenant in Detroit, and we’re also going to see what we can do to bring some suppliers back, too.”

Dauch said he expects that some of American Axle’s vendors will assign engineers to the technical center. The company produces drivetrain components.

Once American Axle lines up incentives with state officials, Dauch said, construction will start this fall.

American Axle has been looking for new uses for its manufacturing operation in Detroit since the plant ended production last year. Today, Dauch said it’s possible that production could be revived in the plant.

News of the expansion comes at a time when American Axle is benefiting from rising North American vehicle production. Dauch said he expects American Axle to generate global sales of $3.7 billion this year, up from $3.2 billion in 2013. Next year, the company is expected to generate $4 billion in sales. 

Last week the company said its second-quarter net income doubled to $52 million on the strength of more business with automakers other than General Motors, its longtime largest customer and former parent company. 

You can reach David Sedgwick at dsedgwick@crain.com

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