Alcan plans a multi-million-dollar expansion of its European production facilities for aluminum automotive components, according to Alcan Automotive president Kurt Wolfensberger.

Speaking at recent ceremonies to mark the three-millionth aluminum bumper system produced at the Gottmadingen manufacturing complex near Singen, Germany, Wolfensberger said the company will more than double its production capacity with three new manufacturing plants for bumper systems and instrument panel supports by 2005.

Ground-breaking for the three plants will take place this month.

This will be the second expansion of the Gottmadingen complex, which opened in 2000 to produce crash management systems – bumper components and side-impact beams – for European car manufacturers.

Earlier this year, Alcan completed its first expansion of the complex, increasing the production of bumpers and side-impact beams and adding two new buildings for the manufacture of aluminum instrument panel supports.

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The facilities which officially opened in June raised the plant’s daily production to 8,000 bumper beams, 8,000 side-impact beams and more than 6,000 instrument-panel supports.

The planned, second expansion will further increase production in these product lines.

The complex today covers an area of 91,500 square-feet and is expected to generate annual sales in the order of $57 million.

The continued expansion of the Gottmadingen complex underlines a growing demand for aluminum automotive components, Wolfensberger noted.

He added that Alcan already has invested more than $19 million in manufacturing equipment at Gottmadingen to support its global automotive business. The facilities currently employ nearly 100 people.

“This new production capacity will enable us to satisfy an increasing market demand for innovative, lightweight automotive components and systems,” he said.  “As part of our strategy, we are aiming to double the annual sales of our Automotive Structures and Design business unit to more than $200 million and this production site will make an important contribution.”

The Gottmadingen facility currently manufactures bumper beams and side- impact beams for major automobile producers including DaimlerChrysler, Opel, MCC and Audi.  Production will begin this year also for BMW and PSA Citroen.

Instrument panel supports are produced for a number of Volkswagen models.  These modules consist of deep- drawn aluminum shells with cast-aluminum and forged-aluminum nodes. The sheet components are joined by electron-beam welding.