Aisin Seiki Co., the world's No. 3 auto parts maker, is expanding its North Carolina plant to make six-speed transmissions for front-wheel-drive cars. The Japanese supplier is spending $100 million to retool the Durham plant operated by subsidiary Aisin AW North Carolina, spokesman Masayuki Toyama said. Production of the transmissions will begin in the fall of 2011.
Aisin is bolstering U.S. production partly as a countermeasure to the yen's surge in value against the dollar, Toyama said. The yen's increase makes it more expensive for Aisin to export parts from Japan.
The six-speed automatic transmissions will be shipped to Toyota Motor Corp. plants in North America. Toyama did not say what model they will be used in. Aisin's North Carolina plant currently makes automatic transmissions for large rear-wheel-drive vehicles such as SUVs.
Six-speed automatics for fwd vehicles are now shipped from Japan, Toyama said. This will be the first time Aisin moves production of such transmissions overseas.
Aisin plans to hire 360 workers over the next two years, boosting the North Carolina plant's payroll to around 1,160 people.