German auto parts maker Hella GmbH. has inaugurated a new vehicle lighting electronics components plant in Lithuania to meet rising demand in the European market.
The €30m Hella facility, which began production earlier this year, is located in the country's second city Kaunas. With an initial 70 strong workforce, the plant is due to expand over its first three year development phase to employ 250, according to Lippstadt, Germany-based Hella.
Officially launched in the presence of Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė, the new plant is scheduled also to produce a range of Hella sensors, actuators and control units.
Hella has been growing strongly, ahead of the market recently as it is addressing demand for parts set by major market trends such as autonomous driving, energy efficiency and digitalisation, according to the group's chief executive officer Rolf Breidenbach.
"With this new plant in Lithuania, we are creating an important prerequisite for meeting the rising demand for our innovative product solutions while continuing our profitable growth path," he commented at the opening ceremony.
Breidenbach added that his company had chosen Kaunas for its latest electronics operation largely because of well-developed infrastructure and significant availability of well qualified workers.
Series manufacturing in the 7,000m2 production hall, in what is Hella's 14th plant to open worldwide, started back in August.
Meanwhile, the German group's influence is growing in China where it recently established a joint venture to manufacture electronic components with BHAP, an offshoot of the Chinese automotive company BAIC.
The enterprise, Hella BHAP Electronics (Jiangsu) Co. Ltd is scheduled to start series parts production early in 2020. BHAP and Hella already work together in an auto lighting systems partnership set up in China in 2014.
“China is one of the fastest growing automotive markets in the world. Because ao automotive market trends such as autonomous driving, digitalisation and electrification, we expect continually increasing demand for our electronic components,” commented the Hella group CEO earlier this year.
This month, his group announced it is joining an international consortium in China initiated by BAIC to develop an intelligent mobility infrastructure in the capital Beijing. A total of 13 international and Chinese technology companies are involved in the non-exclusive cooperation, Hella said.
This will cover communication between vehicles and their environment, for example via traffic lights equipped with sensor technologies.
The project is an opportunity for Hella to collaborate on innovative solutions for connected, automated driving, said Frank Petznick, head of Hella's electronics business in China.
“We will first and foremost contribute our expertise in the areas of radar sensors and front camera software and further intensify our cooperation with BAIC,” he explained.