A Brussels-based automotive supplier has further expanded its manufacturing capabilities in North America by growing its existing Lowcountry footprint.
Wabco recently celebrated the opening of its 145,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 8225 Lincoln Patriot Blvd. in North Charleston. The company supplies parts to major truck, bus and trailer manufacturers.
A $20 million investment funded the new facility and 55 new hires, for a total of 230 employees. Company officials said more employment growth is expected over the next five years.
Wabco first entered the Charleston market in late 1990s through a joint venture with Cummins Engine Co., a manufacturer of diesel engines. Wabco moved into about 90,000 square feet of space in a multitenant facility on Leeds Avenue in North Charleston to manufacture air compressors for Cummins, which also operated on-site.
Wabco continued expanding supplier agreements and product lines over the years, spurring the company to look for a greenfield site on which to build, said Jon Morrison, president of Wabco Americas. The company wanted to localize its air disc brake production to meet increasing customer demand.
Morrison said commercial vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators in North America are asking for air disc brakes more compared with traditional drum brakes because the air disc brakes help commercial vehicles and trucks stop faster.
“We expect considerable growth in the air disc brake manufacturing industry,” Morrison said. “We see it as the future of braking for commercial vehicles.”
The new facility is about 60% larger than the company’s previous footprint. One production line has been installed, with the capacity to produce about 200,000 brakes a year. The company has additional space in the facility for future growth, Morrison said.
Wabco has 13,000 employees in 40 countries.