Nexteer test track puts steering systems through tough test - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Nexteer test track puts steering systems through tough test

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(11/13/12) - One of Saginaw County's largest employers could be getting bigger.

It was just a few weeks ago when we told you that hundreds of jobs may be coming to the Nexteer facility in Buena Vista Township.

Its hot product is its electronic steering systems, and the company has a new way to test them.

When you think of a test track, you might think of a nicely paved road. But the new test track at Nexteer is in really rough shape.

The test track at Nexteer's Saginaw County facility is just off of I-75. It gets plenty of use.

"Seven days a week, every week of the year," said Dennis Hoeg, vice president for Global Engineering at Nexteer.

Testing its products like electronic steering systems that are in most American made cars, trucks and SUV's. One of its customers wanted to put the steering systems through a tougher test.

"Engineers have a big list of specifications. They told us spacing, size of boulders, size of stones," Hoeg said.

Forget pavement, the undisclosed company wanted Nexteer to build a 440 test track that put the steering systems, and the cars and trucks, through a grueling test on boulders and uneven bricks.

"This is not what you would normally see every day, but there are environments that people drive in that see this," Hoeg said.

Hoeg says the new test track cost about $500,000, but he says it's money well spent.

"It's good times at Nexteer, we are growing the business, our products are selling well in the market place," Hoeg said.

And the times for the Saginaw County operation could get better, as the company is expected to announce an eagerly awaited decision on where it will put 325 new jobs - Saginaw County or Mexico.

"We are still making a decision on footprint, and we will probably have that decision after the first of the year," Hoeg said.

The 325 jobs would be part of a $60 million expansion project.

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