German chemicals giant BASF and South Korea’s Kolon Plastics (Kolon Group) this week began operations at a new automotive plastics joint venture in the Gimcheon in North Gyeongsang Province.

The new jointly owned factory, operated by Kolon BASF innoPOM, has capacity of 70,000 tons of polyoxymethylene (POM) per year, which is used mainly in the production of automotive parts such as fuel pumps, safety belts and electronics. 

Automotive demand for high performance plastics like POM has increased in recent years as automakers look to reduce vehicle weight, particularly of alternative fuel vehicles. The new plant will produce Kolon Plastic’s Kocetal and BASF’s Ultraform plastics.

The two partners have each spent KRW30bn (US$26m) on the 50/50 joint venture – which is located close to Kolon Plastics’ existing POM plant – for a combined production capacity of 150,000 tons per year.

Market research company IHS Markit forecast global automotive demand for POM to rise to around 1.6million tons by 2023 from an estimated 1.4m this year.