CHICAGO Constellium NV and UACJ Corp. plan to form a joint venture to supply aluminum auto body sheet to meet expected demand growth in North America.
The Paris-based aluminum products maker and UACJ, Japans largest rolled sheet producer, said in a statement Jan. 23 they would invest $150 million in a facility expected to have initial capacity of 100,000 tons with room to grow. A location has not yet been chosen.
The move comes as automakers in the United States are expected to convert mass-produced models to aluminum from steel, spearheaded by Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co.s announcement that its F-150 pickup will have an aluminum body starting with the 2015 model (amm.com, Jan. 13).
"We estimate that the U.S. market for body-in-white aluminum rolled products could grow from less than 100,000 tons in 2012 to approximately 1 million tons in 2020," Laurent Musy, president of Constelliums packaging and automotive rolled products business unit, said in a written statement. "Constellium expects to benefit from this significant growth potential."
Constellium said in a statement it will hold a 51-percent stake in the joint-venture plant, which will include a continuous heat-treatment and conversion line and will be supplied with coils from both partners.
UACJ said its Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc. subsidiary will make a big contribution to the joint venture with coils from its rolling mill in Logan County, Ky. "Taking into account our joint expertise in body-in-white production and strong relationships with key original equipment manufacturers in each market, we believe a joint venture between UACJ and Constellium is the optimal route to pursue this business opportunity," UACJ president and chief executive officer Mitsuru Okada said in a written statement.
Louisville, Ky.-based Tri-Arrows, which supplies rolled aluminum can sheet to the North American market, has annual production capacity of more than 325,000 tonnes, Constellium said.
Constellium has said it was looking to participate in the auto body sheet market in North America, especially given the widely anticipated switch of the F-150 to an aluminum body enclosure. The company had also said it was considering a partnership instead of jumping into the market on its own (amm.com, Nov. 14).
Constellium is the fourth aluminum company in the United States to announce plans to add capacity to meet expected growth in automotive demand.
Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc. has added auto sheet capacity at its Davenport, Iowa, facility (amm.com, Jan. 14) and is working to make its Alcoa, Tenn., rolling mill capable of producing auto sheet as well as can stock (amm.com, May 2); Atlanta-based Novelis Inc. has commissioned new auto sheet lines at its facility in Oswego, N.Y. (amm.com, Oct. 25); and Cleveland-based Aleris International Inc. has said it is eyeing adding automotive capacity (amm.com, Jan. 13).