Kobe Steel and United States Steel Corporation announced that they have reached agreement for their joint venture, Pro-Tec Coating Company, in Leipsic, Ohio to begin construction of a new continuous galvanising line in response to growing demand for automotive high-strength steel sheet in North America. Construction is expected to begin shortly with commercial operation to begin in July 2019. The new line, an investment of approximately US$400m, will have a production capacity of 500,000 short tons per year.

North America is the world’s second largest automotive market. As CAFE standards regulating fuel efficiency become stricter, car bodies need to become lighter. Consequently, demand for galvanised high-strength steel used in the car body structure is anticipated to increase in the future.

Automotive high-strength steel needs to be both strong and have high formability for use in a growing number of applicable parts. To produce new steel products that meet these needs, Kobe Steel and US Steel decided to add a third continuous galvanising line (CGL) at Pro-Tec. The new line will be equipped with cutting-edge heating and quenching capabilities to enable the production of high-formability, ultra high-strength steel with a tensile strength of 780 MPa and higher. Following the start-up of the new line in 2019, Pro-Tec will be able to supply ultra high-strength hot-dipped galvanised steel with high formability.

Pro-Tec is an equal partnership joint venture of Kobe Steel and US Steel that began operation in 1993. With a total production capacity of 1.5m short tons, Pro-Tec is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the US. Pro-Tec currently supplies its high-quality steel sheet products mainly to Japanese automakers in the US and the Detroit Three automakers. Customers have given Pro-Tec high marks for its quality products and supply capability.

Kobe Steel has established a global supply network for automotive high-strength steel in three locations: Kakogawa Works in Japan, Pro-Tec in the US, and Kobelco Angang Auto Steel in China. By producing and supplying high-strength steel products of outstanding quality, Kobe Steel contributes to weight savings in automobiles, leading to higher fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.