Kobelco Aluminium Products and Extrusions (or KPEX) has broken ground on a production facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, US, officially marking the start of construction. Approximately fifty people attended the ground breaking ceremony.

A subsidiary of Kobe Steel, KPEX will manufacture and sell aluminium bumper beam material and car frame material for the automotive industry in the US. Fabrication operations will begin in the second half of 2017 and the melting to extrusion processes will begin in the second half of 2018.

Major participants in the ground-breaking ceremony included Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson and Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon of Warren county. From Kobe Steel, managing executive officer Takumi Fujii attended the event.

"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," said Fujii at the groundbreaking ceremony. "As demand for lightweight materials increases, I look forward to the future growth of KPEX," he said.

Kobe Steel has been supplying aluminium bumper materials to Japanese automakers since the 1990s. Kobe Steel's original weight-saving proposals covering both product development for high-strength 7,000 series aluminium alloys and cross-section design technology have received high acclaim from customers.

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 aluminium 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 US.

Outline of KPEX
Company name: Kobelco Aluminium Products and Extrusions 
Established: 21 April 2016
Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky, US (across from Kobe Aluminium Automotive Products)
President: Hitoshi Arimura
Capital: US$24m
Equity share: Kobe Steel US Holdings 100%
Total investment: $46.7m
Employees: 110 (in 2019)
Main equipment: one melting and casting line, one extrusion press, two bumper fabrication lines
Production capacity: About 500 tonnes per month