Novelis has broken ground for its first aluminum manufacturing plant in China. The US$100m spend is intended to meet the rapidly growing demand for rolled aluminum used in the design of a new generation of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The wholly owned plant under construction in Changzhou in the Jiangsu Province, will have a capacity of 120,000 tonnes a year. Startup is planned for late 2014.

Located in the heart of the Changzhou National Hi-Tech District, the new facility will be close to vital rail lines, the Changzhou deep water port on the Yangtze River and other business and commercial infrastructure.  The company plans to ship rolled aluminum coils manufactured at its South Korean operations to the new facility in Changzhou for heat treatment and finishing before delivery to automotive customers within China as well as to export markets.

James Liu, managing director for Novelis China, said the expansion is in direct response to customer demand.

“Our close relationships with automakers are driving our long term strategy to support their vehicle production expansions around the globe. We expect demand for automotive aluminum sheet in China to exceed the 25% compound annual growth rate expected across the globe over the next five years, as auto manufacturers strive for improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.”

“The new Novelis plant in China embraces the latest environmental features, including energy managements systems, solar hot water heating, CO2 control and best-in-class water efficiency,” said Shashi Maudgal, president, Novelis Asia.