WIXOM, Mich. Kiekert, the world market leader for automotive locking systems, continues to invest in its U.S. research and development center in Wixom.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the company’s Wixom site serves as Kiekert’s U.S. headquarters and lead research and development (R&D) center for the NAFTA region. The Wixom location allows Kiekert to provide just-in-time delivery for local automotive customers. Today Kiekert has a market share of 25 percent in the NAFTA region. Regular customers include among others the "Big Three" of the US auto industry - Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
The founding of Kiekert Wixom took place on 20 September 1994. Since then, the automotive supplier has continuously invested millions in the expansion of its research and prototype-development facilities to enhance development capacity for its customers and to serve the growing market demand.
“Wixom is the focal point for all of our operations in North America and is a key innovation center in the company’ global product development network,” said Dr. Karl Krause, CEO of Kiekert AG. “Product solutions developed in Wixom have set industry standards around the world. Our Wixom operations are essential for the future success of our global group of companies. "
The 50,000 square-foot headquarters campus houses the company’s lead engineering and program management center for North America. Kiekert’s U.S. sales center also is located at the Wixom facility. About 100 people currently are employed at the Wixom location focusing on the development of new locking systems in cooperation with Kiekert’s customers.
Recent technology developments include the new “Inertia Protech Latch” (IPL) that is equipped with a continuous security mechanism. The system requires fewer components and takes up less space than current systems. About the size of two small match boxes, the Kiekert active inertia system is designed to fit directly into a vehicle’s door latch. Kiekert also recently developed a variety of micro actuators for a wide variety of safety- and comfort-applications and a “tonneau latch” to retain the tonneau cover on picks-ups.
Kiekert is expanding its global footprint as well. It recently opened a new production plant in Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia. Kiekert is the first international supplier to establish a production facility in Russia specializing in automotive locking systems. The company also expanded its production operations in the Czech Republic -- the largest latch-production plant in the world.
To support its global growth plans the company announced earlier this year that Dr. Guido Hanel had joined Kiekert’s management team as executive vice president for planning, program development and quality at its headquarters in Heiligenhaus, Germany. Dr. Hanel will be responsible for production engineering and product quality management.
To strengthen its global sales team and to further expand growth into new markets and new product segments Kiekert appointed Matthias Berg as executive vice president of sales. In this role, Berg took on overall management of global sales based at the company’s headquarters in Heiligenhaus, Germany.
In order to serve growing Brazilian market demands, Fabio Martin was appointed as country manager for Brazil. “The Brazilian market is a central part of Kiekert’s expansion strategy,” said Krause. “By appointing Fabio Martin, we hope to serve the growing demands of the South American market and further build close relationships with our customers there.”