NEW YORK Constellium NV and United Aluminum Co. of Japan Corp. (UACJ) have signed a joint-venture agreement to supply body-in-white aluminum sheet to the North American automotive industry.
The agreement includes the construction of a heat-treatment facility in Bowling Green, Ky., with an initial capacity of 100,000 tons per year, Laurent Musy, president of Constelliums packaging and automotive rolled products business, told AMM in an exclusive interview.
"It is a new facility that will have a heat-treatment line with chemical conversion. Product will be delivered to major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the North American market," Musy said, adding that construction of the $150-million plant likely will begin in early July. Production is expected to start in the first half of 2016 and reach full capacity by 2018
"Our target customers are OEMs that produce in North America," Musy said, adding that supply contracts had "already been established" with major OEMs. "Bowling Green is the right place for this plant, particularly because its central location will allow us to serve automotive OEMs across the U.S. with our advanced and innovative range of products."
Cold-rolled coil will be supplied from both partners rolling mills, Musy added.
The construction of the facility is directly linked to the surge in demand for automotive sheet, "particularly in the U.S. because of the Cafe (corporate average fuel economy) standards," Musy said, noting that the company has seen global demand for body-in-white aluminum sheet increase dramatically over the past two years. "We have already announced several expansions in Europe and we are looking forward to adding significant capacity in the U.S. market."
Amsterdam-based Constellium develops aluminum products for a broad scope of markets and applications, including aerospace, automotive and packaging.
UACJ was established in October 2013 when Furukawa-Sky Aluminum and Sumitomo Light Metal Industries integrated their business operations. The company also owns Louisville, Ky.-based Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc., which manufactures rolled can sheet for the North American market.
The finalization of the joint venture remains subject to regulatory approvals that are expected in the second half of the year.