Novelis plans to expand again

Dec 17, 2013

Novelis is adding a third automotive aluminum finishing line to its operation in Oswego, with plans to focus most of its future business on supplying aluminum for cars and trucks.

According to plant manager Chris Smith, the $120 million investment will increase the plant's total capacity by about 30 percent, to 400,000 metric tons, while adding 90 new jobs to Novelis' workforce.

A photo taken during Novelis' commissioning of two finishing lines at its Oswego plant in October.
Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Smith says by adding the third line, Novelis will be able to meet automakers' increasing needs.

"The demand that we see as far as aluminum for our automotive applications are concerned, the catalyst or the primary catalyst I would say, is the 'lightweighting' initiatives that a lot of the automotive manufacturers in North America have undertaken basically based on the Obama administration's implementation of the CAFE standards."

The CAFE standards are milestones set in place by the National Highway Traffic Administration to raise the average mileage of the nation's cars. By 2025, the goal is to have fuel efficiency reach 54.5 miles per gallon.

The company will also be expanding its recycling operations, allowing car manufacturers to return what's left of the sheet aluminum once they've produced their parts.

"Once they receive the aluminum sheet or coil, it generates about 40 percent scrap, in essence, which we then bring back to Oswego, store safely in a dry environment. That allows us to actually introduce that back into the melt and cast facility and reuse that material."

Auto manufacturers are striving to build lightweight and fuel efficient cars, which means using aluminum in place of heavier metals. Smith says because of that, the global use of aluminum for vehicles is expected to skyrocket 65 percent by 2020.

Audi is one of a group of auto manufacturers that uses Novelis sheet aluminum.
Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Novelis is also shifting the Oswego plant's focus from mostly beverage can aluminum rolling to automotive, with the plan to eventually devote 80 percent of its total capacity to serving automotive manufacturers. Aluminum can rolling will shift primarily to the Russellville, Kentucky plant.

In October, Novelis commissioned the first two finishing lines at its Oswego plant. Smith says if the company stays on schedule, the new line should be ready in two years.

A similar investment will also happen in Nachterstedt, Germand, and is expected to be completed in late 2014.