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Superior to break ground on new aluminum wheel plant

Keywords: Tags  Superior Industries International, Kerry Shiba, Steven Borick, aluminum wheels, ground breaking, Chihuahua, automotive, new capacity Mexico

CHICAGO — Superior Industries International Inc. plans an official groundbreaking for its new aluminum wheel plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, on May 15.

The Van Nuys, Calif.-based aluminum wheel maker said it also has decided on the footprint of the new facility.

"I’m hoping to see us turning dirt in the next 60 days," Superior executive vice president and chief financial officer Kerry Shiba said during a first-quarter earnings conference call with analysts.

Superior announced plans to build the aluminum wheel manufacturing plant in Chihuahua in April. The company said it plans to spend between $125 million and $135 million on the facility, which will produce 2 million to 2.5 million wheels per year (, April 16).

"We are now going into a full-blown negotiation process to get our final costs," Shiba said. "That is really being undertaken over the next 30 days." The new plant will be adjacent to the most recently constructed of Superior’s three wheel-making facilities in Chihuahua, which will allow for cost savings that would have been unavailable from a "more distant location."

Superior is building the new plant as demand from North American automakers is rising and the region becomes more cost-competitive, chairman, chief executive officer and president Steven J. Borick said. "We believe that, as we look at our competition overseas, there is continued opportunity to take back market share."

But Superior still struggles with capacity constraints, older equipment and higher costs at its facilities in the United States, Borick said. "The margins in the United States continue to be a difficult task." While Superior doesn’t want to "diminish" opportunities in the United States, it also is looking to keep all of its lower-cost plants in Mexico running at full capacity. "In some cases, we try to push them even further," he said.

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