17. November 2017 | Industry, Technology, Uses

Aleris opens new automotive body sheet production facility in Kentucky

Aleris has opened its aluminium automotive body sheet production facility in Lewisport, Kentucky. The project, which represents a USD400 million investment, positions Aleris to meet significant growth in North American automotive demand as the industry pursues broader aluminium use for the production of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The company began shipping automotive products from Lewisport to customers this month.

“The opening of our new automotive facility in Kentucky marks the completion of a significant piece of our strategic realignment, which includes expanding our capacity and capabilities to serve the automotive industry and other high value end uses,” said Aleris chairman and CEO, Sean Stack. “As an experienced supplier to automotive manufacturers in Europe, we look forward to partnering with customers more closely now in North America to bring them the most advanced auto body sheet products in the industry.”

Lewisport is the company’s first site in North America that is equipped with aluminium auto body sheet finishing capabilities. Announced in 2014, the expansion includes the addition of heat treatment and finishing capabilities, including a new wide cold mill, two continuous annealing lines and an automotive innovation centre, which includes a state-of-the-art research and development centre in Detroit.

“Strong customer collaboration in research and development has been a key component of our success in serving the global automotive industry, and we look forward to building on that success with this expansion in North America,” said Andreas Gondorf, vice-president, Aleris Global Automotive.

The projections for growth in demand for aluminium auto body sheet over the next ten years are significant. A recent study of North American light vehicle aluminium content released by Ducker Worldwide states that over the next decade, automakers will continue to increase the adoption of high-strength, light-weight aluminium in new car and truck construction at a faster pace than at any time in history.

The properties of aluminium, which include its formability, recyclability, and high strength-to-weight ratio, make it an excellent solution for automotive manufacturers as they work to produce lighter vehicles that will meet more stringent fuel emissions in the United States.

Aleris has served the automotive industry from its facility in Duffel, Belgium, for many years. Including Lewisport, the company has nine rolled aluminium products facilities in North America, the majority of which serve building and construction, truck-trailer, and metal distribution customers.