Global Gateway Charleston ranks high in international employment, report says

German-owned manufacturer IFA makes propshafts at its plant in North Charleston. The company is expanding into a larger facility in Berkeley County. File

A longtime Charleston area automotive supplier is building a $69 million facility in Berkeley County in the hopes of capturing more business from South Carolina's growing vehicle manufacturing sector.

IFA, a German-based company that produces parts for automakers including BMW and Volvo, said this week its 234,000-square-foot facility will add about 120 new jobs to its existing workforce.

The company makes propshafts, a type of driveshaft, for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. It plans to add production of CV joints and distribution of its products at the 479 Trade Center Parkway site in Summerville.

"IFA has a vision to be a top 100 auto supplier, and this latest investment is part of that plan," the company said in a statement. "For 15 years, IFA has been growing with the region, and we are in a position of strength within our market. This expansion shows the shareholders confidence in the region and its employees, and strengthens the commitment to be in South Carolina for years to come."

Hiring for the new facility is expected to begin during the second quarter of 2018.

The company was established in 2002 and opened its North Charleston site in 2003 as MTU Driveshafts, a subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler. In 2006, the company was sold to Tognum of Germany and renamed Rotorion. Germany's IFA Group acquired the company in November 2009.

IFA is one of the world's largest propshaft manufacturers and its North Charleston facility assembles about 2 million parts each year for the North American market.

The company's expansion is taking place as Volvo Cars is building a $500 million manufacturing campus off Interstate 26 in the Ridgeville area of Berkeley County. That facility will produce about 100,000 vehicles annually when it starts production in late 2018.

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.

Volvo will join Mercedes-Benz Vans, which is building a $500 million campus in North Charleston to make Sprinter Vans, and the BMW facility in Greer, the German automaker's largest with a production capacity of more than 400,000 vehicles per year.

All told, South Carolina's automotive sector includes more than 250 manufacturers and suppliers employing more than 66,000 people. The industry has a statewide annual economic impact of $27 billion.

IFA also supplies General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Ferrari.

The state's Coordinating Council for Economic Development provided a $150,000 grant to Berkeley County to assist with the costs of site infrastructure preparation for IFA's manufacturing facility.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_