Kobe Steel Moves Aluminum Production to American Market
May 10, 2017—Kobe Steel Ltd. announced it will manufacture and sell aluminum extrusions for the automotive sector in the United States. The new business will operate through a company called Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions Inc. (or KPEX) in Bowling Green, Ky.
"The establishment of KPEX will enable Kobe Steel to manufacture and supply the same high-quality aluminum extrusions and fabricated products available in Japan in the North American market," the company said in a press release. "Through innovative weight-saving proposals, Kobe Steel aims to gain the trust of automakers in North America."
KPEX will make bumper materials for cars and car frame materials. The new company will have an integrated production facility, with operations ranging from melting to fabrication. Plans call for construction of the plant to begin this summer. Fabrication will start in the latter half of 2017, and the melting to extrusion processes will begin in the latter half of 2018. Total investment is expected to reach $46.7 million, and KPEX is anticipated to create 110 jobs.
Kobe Steel said it has been supplying aluminum bumper materials to Japanese automakers since the 1990s.
"The company has over 20 years of experience in the Japanese market and has established a strong track record," the press release stated. "Kobe Steel's original weight-saving proposals covering both product development, such as for high-strength 7000 series aluminum alloys, and cross-section design technology have received high acclaim from customers."
KPEX will be Kobe Steel's second manufacturing operation in Bowling Green after Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC (or KAAP), which began production in 2005. KAAP makes aluminum forgings for automotive suspension systems and aluminum cast rods for compressors.