Project Charger unveiled Tognum research, development expansion adds 10 jobs

SUBMITTED PHOTO Pictured, from left, are Tognum America Inc. Vice President of North American Operations Joerg Klisch, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Tognum CEO Dr. Ulrich Dohle after the announcement of the expansion at the MTU Plant in Aiken County on Wednesday.

The company behind Project Charger revealed itself Wednesday, announcing a $22.5 million expansion and the creation of 10 new jobs.

Tognum is expanding its Research and Development Center at the MTU Plant located in Graniteville.

This expansion will help double the Center's development capacity with the addition of two new test cells for off-highway diesel engines, according to a press release.

“We are very appreciative of this latest announcement by Tognum. They have quickly demonstrated that they are committed to manufacturing and research and development in Aiken County,” stated Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young in the release. “They have far exceeded their original commitment to us, and I am very happy to have them call Aiken County home.”

A little more than a week ago, Aiken County Council held a special meeting to conduct a second reading of an amendment to its fee-in-lieu of ad valorem taxes agreement in regards to Project Charger.

The initial agreement from when this company was established permits it to do a second Special Source Revenue Credit. But the company is willing to waive that if the County extends the current credit to 40 percent of its fee payment.

Tognum is in the process of a plant expansion program internationally, including efforts to broaden its footprint in North America.

Tognum annually generates approximately $4 billion worldwide, and 22 percent of its revenue comes from North America, which is a market that's very important to the company, said Tognum CEO Dr. Ulrich Dohle.

Tognum America Inc. Vice President of North American Operations Joerg Klisch stated in the release that this project will “result in the completion of one of its most advanced diesel engine development facilities in North America.”

“We're very pleased by the support that we've received from the local government, the economic development board and the community that is also supporting us,” Klisch said on Wednesday.

The Research and Development Center officially opened in April. Tognum's expansion efforts in North America has resulted in approximately $100 million invested in Aiken County since 2010, according to the release.

Dohle said Tognum closely monitors the performance of its facilities, and the Aiken County plant scored highly. Dohle said this specific plant has performed beyond the company's expectations, and Tognum's management board is confident in investing in this location.

“The way that the people work here, they are motivated. They are very engaged in the company,” Dohle said. “It's very impressive.”

Construction of these new engine test cells are scheduled to begin some time this month and is anticipated to be completed by March 2015.

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Virginia and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.