Oct. 1, 2014
Aleris Plans Kentucky Expansion to Meet Auto Sheet Growth
Aleris, Cleveland, will invest $350 million to upgrade capabilities at its aluminum rolling mill in Lewisport, Ky., in anticipation of greater demand from the automotive sector. Aleris is currently a leading supplier to the European premium auto industry and plans to occupy a similar position in North America as its automakers expand their use of aluminum to produce lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
"We have partnered with customers in the premium automotive segment from our Duffel, Belgium, facility for years to develop and produce some of the most technically advanced lightweight aluminum solutions available today," says Steve Demetriou, Aleris chairman and CEO. "We are excited to bring these capabilities to our Lewisport facility to serve automotive customers in North America as they shift toward significantly greater aluminum use."
The company expects to begin construction on the project this fall, with a goal of shipping automotive body sheet material to customers by early 2017. When fully operational, the new facility will produce 480 million pounds of aluminum auto body sheet annually.
The company's investment will include the addition of heat treatment and finishing capabilities, including a new wide cold mill, two continuous annealing lines and an automotive innovation center.
Including Lewisport, the company has 11 rolled aluminum products facilities in North America, the majority of which serve building and construction, truck-trailer and metal distribution customers. Upon completion of the upgrade, Lewisport will be the company’s first site in North America equipped with aluminum auto body sheet finishing capabilities.
A recent study of North American light vehicle aluminum content released by Ducker Worldwide forecasts that the use of aluminum sheet for vehicle bodies will increase to 4 billion pounds by 2025, from 200 million pounds in 2012.