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Kobe Aluminum expansion will increase auto offerings

Keywords: Tags  Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, KAAP, Susumu Koike, automotive, aluminum, aluminum forgings, Michael Cowden

CHICAGO — Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products LLC (KAAP) has broken ground on a $66-million expansion at its Bowling Green, Ky., facility as the company looks to boost its offerings to the automotive sector.

The investment includes an 87,000-square-foot addition to make room for new furnaces, casting machines, forging presses and other equipment needed to meet increased demand for precision aluminum components in the auto sector, according to the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.

Among the parts the facility will make are fully forged aluminum suspension systems for fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles.

The addition is expected to create 100 jobs, which should boost employment to 320 by mid-2016, the chamber said. The company employed 270 people as of May 15, adding 50 jobs since it applied for incentives for the expansion because of increased market demand.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved tax incentives of up to $300,000, the chamber said, and additional incentives are pending approval.

"We do not take these incentives for granted and will do our best to fulfill our employment obligations," KAAP president and chief executive officer Susumu Koike said in a statement.

The Japanese auto supplier last year announced plans to build a production line to meet growing North American demand for cast aluminum bars. The plant, set to open in August 2013, will have a production capacity of 4,000 tonnes per year (, Nov. 21).

KAAP is a joint venture between Japan’s Kobe Steel Ltd., Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Toyota Tsusho Corp. While Kobe Steel operates 11 subsidiaries in the United States, the Bowling Green location is the company’s only U.S. facility that forges for the automotive sector, the chamber said.

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