MTU Detroit Diesel plant opens in South Carolina

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The new MTU Detroit Diesel engine production facility celebrated its grand opening Wednesday in Aiken, S.C.

The plant will manufacture MTU Series 2000 and 4000 engines, primarily for the U.S. market. The assembly lines are the first step on the way to developing the Aiken plant into a broad production base in the United States.

A manufacturing department for components is scheduled to go into operation in the spring, the company said. Further expansion of the plant is possible.

MTU Detroit Diesel is a Tognum Group company specializing in the manufacture and development of diesel engines and systems for off-highway applications.

"Our success in the U.S. shows there is a large market here for our products," said Volker Heuer, CEO of Tognum AG, Friedrichshafen, Germany, in a statement. "We are taking advantage of the current low real estate prices to prepare ourselves for further growth in the USA."

About 50 people from the region have been hired for engine assembly. About 30 employees from production-related areas have moved from the former Detroit production site to South Carolina, the company said. By next summer, about 50 additional jobs will be created for the manufacture of engine components.

In four years, as many as 250 people are expected to be employed at the new plant.

MTU also has set up a special training program in cooperation with Aiken Technical College.

"There are specialists in this region with excellent knowledge of metalworking or engine technology. We are giving them further training to qualify them for our specific engine production requirements and our manufacturing facilities," said Jörg Klisch, plant manager in Aiken.

The Tognum Group acquired the approximately 100-acre site in March, including a 270,000-square-foot production building. Tognum also has rented a 120,000-square-foot warehouse close to the plant that will supply the parts required for production.

By the time component manufacturing starts in 2011, the Tognum Group will have invested about $45 million in the area.

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