NEW YORK Alcoa
Inc.s wheel and transportation division officially opened
its first fully integrated wheel manufacturing facility in
Suzhou, China, Thursday.
Pittsburgh-based Alcoa began
selling wheels out of Shanghai in 2004 and has since expanded
its employee base to Guangzhou, Beijing, Jinan and Suzhou, but
the company hadnt produced wheels in China before.
The new plant will produce
primarily for the Chinese market, but the company said it might
ship to neighboring markets in the future as well.
"With the growth of Chinas
infrastructure and the success Alcoas wheel products have
seen in the Chinese market over the past several years, it was
a natural choice to further expand our global manufacturing
footprint by building a facility that could manufacture our
products locally," Alcoa wheels and transportation president
Tim Myers said in a statement.
The $29-million facility has
been manufacturing commercial truck, trailer and bus wheels
since it opened in September, a company spokeswoman told
AMM. The facility is equipped to produce forged wheels
rather than those that are cast, which produce stronger,
aligned grain wheel structures.
Alcoa sells wheel products to
Chinese customers CIMC Trailers and BYD Bus, for which Alcoa
also developed an all-aluminum bus space frame, the spokeswoman
Last month, Alcoa chairman and
chief executive officer Klaus Kleinfeld told AMM that
a vast infrastructure program in China and the government
leadership turnover in March would boost growth in the country
and make it more business-friendly (amm.com, Nov.
The support of local Chinese
governments allowed Alcoa to commence operations on the Suzhou
wheel facility ahead of schedule, Myers said.