Chrysler announced that it would contract with ZF Friedrichschafen AG to run a new axle factory in Marysville, Michigan, set to open in 2010 with a capacity of 500,000 axles per year. Chrysler will retain ownership of the building, and 350 employees of the nearby Chrysler axle plant will work there; while ZF will buy the equipment needed to run the plant, easing Chrysler’s cash flow. The plan has been in the works for a considerable time; ZF, which provides axles to all three German automakers and sells transmissions to BMW, hopes to supply other automakers using the facility, which will make high-efficiency components.
Chrysler has released some details on the new axles; they will be based on a ZF design, using aluminum housings which can cut 30-35 pounds and, in some cases, welded ring gears, which can cut another two pounds. Synthetic fluids work more effectively as a coolant while cutting resistance, lowering parasitic losses while increasing life, and avoiding the need to replace the lubricant. Advanced bearings will also reduce parasitic losses.