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Auto driving finishing capacity growth: Novelis

Keywords: Tags  Novelis, Tom Boney, automotive, continuous annealing, heat treat, finishing, Oswego, scrap UBC

FARMINGTON, Pa. — Novelis Inc. expects to officially unveil its automotive finishing lines in Oswego, N.Y., on Oct. 24 in anticipation of increased demand for continuous annealing heat-treat lines.

"We’ve gone through hot commissioning and we’re producing product. Things are going very well," Tom Boney, Novelis vice president and general manager of automotive, said in an interview with AMM at the Aluminum Association’s fall meeting in Farmington, Pa.

The expansion is expected to boost automotive finishing capacity at Oswego to more than 240,000 tonnes per year (, Aug. 12). Heat-treat capacity at the plant is already fully contracted, indicating that more finishing capacity might be necessary, Boney said.

"Continuous annealing solution heat-treat lines, the finishing lines, is ... the area of investment that is going to be made in North America to supply the automobile industry," he said. But while more finishing capacity is needed, there is already "plenty" of hot mill capacity to meet expected demand from the auto industry.

The average vehicle currently sports about 337 pounds of aluminum, but that figure is expected to jump to between 500 and 550 pounds as the industry reaches an "inflection point" driven by stricter government fuel economy standards and consumers looking for high-performance and more environmentally friendly vehicles, Boney said. "It really is a match made in heaven for aluminum."

He declined to reveal which automakers or parts suppliers might be consuming material from Novelis’ operations in North America.

Referring to Novelis’ automotive sheet finishing line under construction in China’s Jiangsu province (, Nov. 7), Boney said the Jiangsu expansion "is a sister to what we’re doing in Oswego. It’s fundamentally using the same technology with the same output to be able to meet the requirements of any one of our customers who would want to build automobiles in China and the same sort of vehicles in North America." The Jiangsu expansion is on schedule to begin producing in late 2014, Boney said.

Another area that could see expansion in North America is Novelis’ scrap capabilities, Boney suggested, pointing to the company’s aluminum recycling and casting plant in Nachterstedt, Germany (, June 7). "If you look at our technology and our approach, our strategy is that if it makes sense for our global customers in Europe then it will make sense for our global customers in North America," Asia and South America, he said.

Novelis already tracks the used beverage can (UBC) market closely as a "strategic imperative," Boney said. The company is now only a "passive recipient" of automotive scrap but expects to take a more "active approach" in the future, especially as more vehicles already on the road are junked and enter the scrap stream, he said.

"When we get larger in the automobile business, it will become equally strategically imperative for us," Boney said. "And as we get closer to 80-percent recycled content, we are going to have to be much better urban miners and figure out how to do that in a much more sophisticated, much more robust way than we do today."

Novelis wants to have 80-percent recycled content in its products by 2020 (, Aug. 9). The company currently is at 43 percent and has "clear plans" to get to 50 percent as it looks to recycle "anything aluminum," Boney said. "If a building goes down and it’s made from aluminum, we want it. If a can gets consumed and it’s aluminum, we want it. If a frying pan is aluminum, we want it," he said. "We don’t want that going into landfills ... because we can make great products with it."

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