Hyundai Steel on Thursday said its new furnace would specialise in steel plates for Hyundai Motor Group vehicles to meet demand for higher quality products and boost the group’s synergy.

The move will strengthen the group’s integrated supply chain, with Hyundai Steel providing crude steel and hot-rolled plates and Hyundai Hysco supplying cold-rolled plates to the country’s top two automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, Reuters reported, citing a Hyundai Steel statement.

South Korea’s second largest steelmaker after Posco in January started its first blast furnace with an annual production capacity of 4m tonnes of steel.

Hyundai Steel, which mainly produces rebar and H-section for the construction sector, has been developing automotive steel plate technology since 2007.

It has invested 6.23 trillion won (US$5.55bn) since 2006 to build two furnaces with an combined annual production capacity of 8m tonnes, more than the originally planned 5.84 trillion won due to rising raw material costs, the statement said.

The second furnace will start operation from November, over one month earlier than planned. The two new plants will boost the company’s total annual crude steel output, including output from mini mills, to 19.5m tonnes, the statement added.

Hyundai Steel is currently considering building a third furnace with an annual capacity of 4m tonnes, according to the statement.

The company had planned to complete construction by 2015 but the timing has not yet been confirmed, a company spokesman told Reuters.