DETROIT – Power-steering systems, parts and driveline supplier Nexteer, which endured two parent-company bankruptcies during the recession before an unlikely rescue by China’s national aviation industry, expects to ride a wave of new business to the head of its industry in the coming years.

Mike Richardson, executive director, senior vice president and chief technology and strategy officer at Saginaw, MI-based Nexteer, says the company’s backlog has ballooned to $8 billion, representing multiple OEM programs with volumes of at least 1 million units each in several regions around the world.

“We are digesting that huge backlog right now, and it will help us objectively move our global ranking as that production moves to the street,” Richardson tells WardsAuto in an interview.

The $2.2 billion supplier currently ranks No.5 among global steering-systems providers. It’s been in the steering business for more than 100 years, born out of General Motors and spun off with the automaker’s former captive parts maker Delphi in 1999.

Shortly after Delphi exited its 4-year stint through Chapter 11 in 2009, GM took it back to maintain a steady flow of steering systems and parts as it worked through its own bankruptcy.

About 18 months after GM completed bankruptcy, the automaker sold Nexteer to Aviation Industry of China in a deal valued at a reported $450 million. Shares bowed on the Hong Kong stock exchange last year.

Through all the ups and downs, Nexteer kept its R&D unit humming, Richardson recalls. When the Chinese took over, they immediately boosted new-technology spending 50%.

“They started as the least likely buyer, but they understood the safety, quality and capital-intensive nature of our industry,” he says.

Now, for the first time in years, Nexteer boasts a complete product portfolio, ranging from old-fashion hydraulic-power-assist to the latest electrically actuated steering systems and a line of complementary gears, pumps, reservoirs and hoses.

The portfolio also is broad-based, covering top-of-the-line rack-based EPS systems boasting the world’s highest-power output to an attractively priced, brush-motor based, moderate-output EPS system for emerging markets.

Much of the order backlog is new business, too. Nexteer expanded beyond GM four years ago to add the large pickup business of Ford and Chrysler to its customer sheet. Its exclusive 12V EPS technology today appears on nine of every 10 large pickups in North America.