Alcoa today announced a second major North American expansion to meet the growing demand for light, durable and recyclable aluminum sheet for automotive production.
Alcoa will invest $275 million over the next three years to expand and convert capacity at its rolling mill in Alcoa, Tenn., to support automotive producers’ plans to use more aluminum sheet to increase fuel efficiency, safety, durability and performance of cars and light trucks. Alcoa previously announced a $300 million expansion of its Davenport, Iowa plant which is set to be completed by the end of this year.
“Our Tennessee expansion is a great example of how Alcoa’s edge in technology and innovation is capturing growth opportunities in our value-added mid- and downstream businesses,” said Alcoa Chairman and CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld. “More and more auto producers are turning to aluminum to increase the fuel efficiency and quality of their vehicles – we anticipate a quadrupling of auto sheet volume by 2015 and a tenfold increase by 2025.
“It is particularly gratifying to make this investment in our namesake community this year, which is both the 100th anniversary of our Tennessee operations as well as the 125th anniversary of Alcoa,” added Kleinfeld. “We have a very dedicated and highly engaged workforce in Tennessee and a very supportive community.”
The Alcoa, Tenn., expansion will add 200 full-time, high-value jobs upon completion. In addition, more than 400 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the expansion. The project will convert some of the plant’s can sheet capacity to high-strength automotive aluminum capacity, as well as install incremental automotive capacity. The Tennessee expansion is scheduled to begin this month and be completed by mid-2015. When completed, the plant will be a key supplier to both the packaging and automotive markets. Much of the volume for the automotive expansion is already secured under long-term supply agreements.
"I want to thank Alcoa for its additional investment in East Tennessee and for 100 years of incredible service in Blount County," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. "Our Jobs4TN strategy identifies key industry clusters where Tennessee holds a unique competitive advantage, and we are grateful Alcoa is expanding its presence and joining in our state's continued growth in the automotive sector. This is another step toward Tennessee becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, and adding these jobs is a great way to celebrate an anniversary."
The project will incorporate, through Alcoa’s supply chain, the proprietary “Alcoa 951” pre-treatment bonding technology which enables adhesive bonding of automotive structures and is facilitating more cost-effective, mass production of aluminum intensive vehicles (AIVs). The Alcoa technology has become the new pre-treatment bonding standard for aluminum sheet, extrusion and casting suppliers across the automotive industry. Alcoa is licensing the technology to the industry at the request of auto OEMs.
“Our technology solutions are helping to drive the continued penetration of aluminum into the automotive market,” said Dr. Ray Kilmer, Alcoa Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “We are enabling not just increased penetration, but we are working with OEMs to do it cost effectively in high-volume automotive applications which, in turn, necessitates our automotive expansions.”