DETROIT — China's Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. has opened a technical center in suburban Detroit to conduct chassis R&D for its own brands in China.
The $30 million R&D center initially will have 30 employees, rising to 200 workers over the next two to five years.
Changan will work with North American parts suppliers to develop suspension components, brakes, chassis and power steering, said Gang Feng, deputy general manager of the new facility.
“This is the first step for us to fix the weak link in our technology, which is chassis,” Feng said.
Changan maintains a three-way joint venture with Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., plus partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
In many cases, Changan will be working with suppliers that already have factories in China. The technical center's proximity to these suppliers in Michigan will speed up R&D, Feng said.
He noted that the technical center is not intended to help Changan enter the U.S. market.
Changan also has a design center in Turin, Italy, plus a technical center in the United Kingdom to develop powertrains.
The automaker is spending heavily to upgrade its vehicle technology. In December, Changan detailed plans to raise $607 million to develop small engines, expand minivan production and conduct R&D for its own brands.
Changan, which is based in the southwest China city of Chongqing, is China's third largest domestic automaker. Last year, the company sold 2.4 million cars and commercial vehicles, of which 70 percent were its own brands.