Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that its U.S. subsidiary, Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC (or KAAP), will further increase production of aluminum forgings to meet the growing U.S. market for lightweight automotive suspension systems.
The Bowling Green, Kentucky-based company will invest $14 million (1.6 billion yen) to add a fourth mechanical forging press and associated equipment. Production is scheduled to begin April 2008.
Since KAAP's start-up in June 2005, production of aluminum forgings has continued to expand. Strong demand required KAAP to install a second forging press in April 2006 and a third press in December the same year.
KAAP currently manufactures 190,000 pieces per month.
On confirmed orders alone, KAAP's No. 3 forging press is expected to reach full operation in the first half of 2008.
KAAP anticipates that demand will continue to increase in the future as aluminum is being considered in new car applications, primarily by Japanese automotive transplants.
When the No. 4 forging press goes into operation, KAAP's production capacity will rise to 280,000 pieces per month, a 33% increase.
Fitted with more safety devices and options, cars have been growing heavier, while having to clear stringent environmental regulations. American and Japanese automakers are turning to forged aluminum suspensions, which are about 40% lighter than suspensions made of steel castings. They also contribute to improved drivability and ride quality.