RALEIGH – Auto parts manufacturer Marelli is closing a plant in Sanford and moving 329 jobs to Mexico, according to a notice sent by the Italy-based conglomerate to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

According to the so-called WARN [Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notificaion act] notice for layoffs that the state disclosed Friday, the plant will be shut down in the “second half of 2021.”

The factory is used to manufacture vehicle powertrains. It has been operating in Sanford for more than 40 years.

“Over its 40 year history, the plant has evolved from producing carburettors into modern powertrain systems including intake manifolds, electronic throttle bodies and engine control systems for automobiles, motorcycles, powersports, and industrial engines,” Marelli said in 2016 in observance of its 40th anniversary. At that time the company said it employed some 400 people in Sanford.

All workers have been notified, wrote Michael Monday, General Counsel for Marelli North America.

Monday said moving the jobs to Mexico will help the company “increase efficiency.”

Monday cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the shutdown as well as a “pace of change” in the auto industry “that has never been greater.”

One hundred of the jobs are listed as hourly and temporary.

Another 130 are hourly production line positions.

Jobs will be moved to Saltillo, Mexico.