Japan-based Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions Inc. started construction its production facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A subsidiary of Kobe Steel, KPEX will manufacture and sell aluminum bumper beam material and car frame material for the automotive industry in the United States.
According to company officials, Fabrication operations will begin in the second half of 2017 and the melting to extrusion processes will begin in the second half of 2018.
Kobe Steel Managing Executive Officer Takumi Fujii said, “Cars need to be lighter to reduce CO2 emissions and improve mileage. Many automakers want to use lighter materials, and our products have received high marks from them. As demand for lightweight materials increases, I look forward to the future growth of KPEX.”
Kobe Steel has been supplying aluminum bumper materials to Japanese automakers since the 1990s. Kobe Steel’s original weight-saving proposals covering both product development for high-strength 7000 series aluminum alloys and cross-section design technology have received high acclaim from customers, company officials said.
Higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for 2025 are accelerating the need to lighten car bodies in North America, the world’s second largest automotive market. As a result, demand for aluminum extrusions is anticipated to expand in the future.
Through innovative weight-saving proposals, KPEX aims to gain the trust of automakers in North America, as well as contribute to strengthening Kobe Steel’s supply network in Japan and the United States.