Between 2012 and 2016, Gestamp invested about $500 million in U.S. locations.
Spanish-owned Gestamp North America Inc., a metal parts supplier, opened its first r&d facility in the U.S. in suburban Detroit on Friday.
The U.S. subsidiary of Gestamp Automocion already has a manufacturing plant in Michigan but believes it will benefit from having a location closer to Detroit, a "mecca of automotive engineering," according to Paul Belanger, the company's director of r&d.
"The best and brightest minds are here," Belanger added.
Renovations in the 37,000-square-foot space in Auburn Hills, Mich., began last August. The area, formerly occupied by Recaro Child Safety Systems, will be used for research and production of basic materials to make lighter, safer vehicles.
In this branch, chassis development is a priority.
Crash and computer simulations will be conducted on-site, along with metal fatigue testing and prototyping.
As of its opening, 44 engineers and techs are employed at the center. The company plans to expand that to 64, 36 percent less than the original plan of 100 employees.
Two additional r&d centers are set to open abroad soon, but the locations are still to be announced. Between 2012 and 2016, Gestamp invested about $500 million in U.S. locations.
Gestamp ranks No. 27 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $8.51 billion in 2015.