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Constellium sets 2016 for US auto output

Jan 23, 2014 | 05:09 PM | Michael Cowden

Tags  aluminum, Constellium NV, U.S. automotive market, aluminum rolled products, investment, greenfield project, Laurent Musy, joint venture UACJ Corp.

CHICAGO — Constellium NV’s expansion into the U.S. automotive market will be a greenfield project, according to a company executive.

The Paris-based aluminum products maker expects to begin construction on the facility by the second half of 2014 and to be in production by the first half of 2016, Laurent Musy, president of the company’s packaging and automotive rolled products business, told AMM in an exclusive interview Jan. 23.

Musy declined to reveal where the new plant might be located. "It will be a location that is convenient for the market and where our customers are," he said. He also declined to disclose which companies Constellium and its joint-venture partner in the project, Japan’s UACJ Corp., might supply, citing strict nondisclosure agreements.

Constellium and UACJ already supply European and Japanese automakers and would look to work with those customers’ operations in the United States as well as U.S.-based automakers, Musy said. "All the automotive companies that have aluminum needs in the U.S. will be our targets," he said. "We have products that have proven their use with good adoption by, for example, German OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), so there is no reason why American customers would not like those products as well."

Constellium and UACJ will source coils not only from Constellium’s operations in the U.S. and UACJ’s Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc. subsidiary in Kentucky, but also from plants in Europe and Japan, Musy said. The coil supply mix will depend on the product and could change over time, he said. "What happens on the first day when we start operation will be different from what you might have two years down the road. What this alliance offers is a range of possibilities."

Constellium isn’t concerned about excess capacity, especially given the increased demand expected for body-in-white applications in the North American market, Musy said. "When you look at what has been announced, there are still significant needs for further expansion. There is no overcapacity in sight for the time being. ... And you cannot have just two suppliers for a big market like the U.S."

The expansion will also give Constellium, which has a strong presence in the U.S. aerospace market through its plant in Ravenswood, W.Va., a better foothold in the U.S. automotive sector, Musy said. Also on the automotive front, Constellium last week announced plans to spend €200 million ($271.1 million) to boost its body-in-white capacity in Europe.

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