The new company will be the first Japanese operation to produce aluminium sheet for body panels in China. Kobe Steel will supply master coils from its Moka Plant in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. The aluminium will then undergo annealing followed by surface treatment and other finishing processes by the new company.

Kobelco Automotive Aluminum Rolled Products (China) Co., Ltd., the new company, will be established in early 2014. It will have a production capacity of 100,000 metric tons per year. The wholly owned subsidiary of Kobe Steel will be capitalised at 450 million yuan (about 7.5 billion yen). Total investment is anticipated to reach 1.15 billion yuan (about 19 billion yen). The facility is expected to start up in 2016 and will employ about 140 people when it goes into full operation.

Kobe Steel currently supplies the Chinese market from its Moka Plant. However, automakers’ strong requests for a local source of automotive aluminium sheet led the company to the decision to set up a production base in China.