Kobe Steel Ltd. will establish a company in China to produce and market aluminum forgings for automotive suspensions. Following construction of a plant in June 2010 in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, Kobe Steel anticipates that production will begin in August 2012. The 7,000-square-meter facility will be equipped with a 6,300-metric-ton mechanical forging press and heat-treatment equipment. The new company, provisionally called Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products Co. Ltd., will employ 50 people.
Aluminum forgings for automotive suspensions are increasingly used in luxury cars to reduce weight and meet environmental regulations. Kobe Steel has a high share of the Japanese market for aluminum forgings for suspensions and manufactures the high-end product in the company's Daian Plant in Japan. In 2005, Kobe Steel's U.S. subsidiary, Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products LLC, began operations in Bowling Green, Ky., to supply automakers in North America. Kobe Steel concluded that it was necessary to establish a production site in China to meet orders from Chinese automakers.