voestalpine lightweight automotive construction is reaching new heights in the USA with 3 phs-ultraform® lines. The Group is investing over USD 60 million in the production of ultra high-strength vehicle components, particularly in Cartersville, Georgia.
voestalpine has been producing the first ultra high-strength lightweight body parts in the USA’s Southern Auto Corridor, part of the North American free trade zone NAFTA, since last year. With its phs-ultraform® parts, voestalpine Automotive Components Cartersville Inc. has been laying out the red carpet for lightweight automotive construction along this industrial corridor.
Driving expansion at the Cartersville site
Ultra high-strength body parts for German premium automotive manufacturers are currently being produced and assembled (phs-ultraform® components and cut parts) on a production space of around 25,000 m² in Cartersville. In vehicle structures these parts are typically used in A and B pillars as well as stiffeners and cross-members. The state-of-the-art plant is the first voestalpine production site for ultra high-strength automotive components used in lightweight construction in the NAFTA region. The voestalpine site in Georgia has developed rapidly since opening in spring 2014. In parallel with the intensified rollout of phs hot forming technology, the phs lines have been expanded annually:
- Opening 2014
- 1st expansion phase 2016: including product start for phs line USA 1
- 2nd expansion phase 2017: including product start for phs line USA 2; approx. 220 employees
- 3rd expansion phase 2018: including product start for phs line USA 3; approx. 370 employees
- Expansion forecast 2020: approx. 450 employees/approx. USD 200 million revenue
A major automotive contract worth over USD 500 million resulted in a wave of investments last year; they include the startup of the third phs line USA in 2018 as well as the construction of further presses and assembly facilities.
Expansion and jobs
voestalpine is currently investing over USD 60 million in expanding its lightweight construction capacities in the USA. In addition to extending the Cartersville site, a supplementary production hub is also being built in Birmingham, Alabama, just two hours away by car. Here assembly facilities for high-quality automotive parts are being installed in leased production halls. By 2020 these two Metal Forming Division subsidiaries in the USA will have together created 450 jobs.
Special training program
The company has also gained a good reputation for its exemplary work in nurturing young employees. Unlike Germany and Austria, the USA has no unified system of training. Consequently, the in-house program run by voestalpine Automotive Components Cartersville is regarded as a model of good practice. Over a 2 1/2 year training period professional staff teach theory and practical skills which lead to certification as an “Industrial Manufacturing Technician”.
Global demand for leightweight construction
voestalpine is responding to the sustained trend towards lightweight construction by further internationalization of its production lines for ultra high-strength, galvanized body parts. Press-hardened vehicle components such as stiffeners, side members, and A and B pillars offer the highest levels of safety. In terms of weight and production costs they successfully compete with other lightweight construction materials including aluminum and carbon. For this reason voestalpine is rolling out both phs processes—phs-ultraform® as well as the single process step phs-directform®—around the world. phs capacities will continue to be expanded in China, as well as in the NAFTA region and the European market.
Currently nine voestalpine phs lines are operating worldwide:
- Schwäbisch Gmünd (Germany): 3 phs-ultraform®/1 phs-directform®
- Schmölln (Germany): 2 phs-ultraform®
- Shenyang (China): 1 phs-ultraform®
- Cartersville (USA): 2 phs-ultraform® (fall 2017)
- Additional lines in China and the USA currently under construction
- Supplementing the phs family with phs-rollform®
- Planned revenue for the phs-family by 2021/22: approx. EUR 360 million annually