By Paul Ploumis
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The Japanese aluminum giant Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC (KAAP) has announced major expansion at its operations in Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The planned USD 51.3 million expansion project is likely to create around 130 new jobs. Further, it will boost the South Central Kentucky economy by approximately $280 million over the next ten years. The expansion project comprises of installation of two new forging presses, a heat-treatment line, an etch and penetrant line, a melting furnace, a casting line, and twin machining lines.
Toshihiro Katsura, KAAP President and CEO noted that the Bowling Green facility has made significant contribution to global aluminum lightweighting efforts by producing aluminum automobile suspension parts to cater to the needs of automobile industry. The plant which started operations in 2004 is already into its twelfth year of production. The proposed investment is the seventh additional investment by the company at the facility. Two years ago, the company had made sixth investment. However, growing demand for lightweight aluminum products by the automobile industry have forced the management to make another significant investment, Katsura added.
Meantime, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin recollected that KAAP has been an excellent partner in the growth of State’s automotive industry over the past several years. He expressed gratitude to the company’s dedication to the State and hoped that the remarkable success story would continue in future also. The expansion by KAAP is glowing example of Kentucky’s formidable growth in manufacturing sector.
Ron Bunch, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO congratulated KAAP on the project and the success it has brought to the community. The success of companies like KAAP has helped to advance South Central Kentucky’s reputation among metal and automotive parts manufacturing groups, he added. Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson stated that KAAP’s growth and success since 2005 has been astonishing. The company continues to have a tremendous impact on its economy, he noted. Incidentally, the company has invested nearly $287 million in the Bowling Green community over the past dozen years.
KAAP is a subsidiary of Kobe Steel Group (KOBELCO), which was founded in 1905. The firm has been a key producer of aluminum for automotive and aircraft applications. KAAP has been the recipient of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce's John B. Holland Business of the Year award three times-in 2008, 2012 and 2013.
Meantime, recent research report titled “Growth Opportunities for Aluminum in the Global Automotive Industry” released by Research and Markets indicates that aluminum in global automotive industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.4% from 2017 to 2022 and is likely to reach $42.4 billion by 2022. Also, cast aluminum segment is likely to remain the largest market. The key drivers of this growth would be rise in vehicle production and gasoline prices and stricter government regulations on emission standards and safety rules.