Novelis to Increase Aluminum Supply to Electric Vehicle Makers

Industry leader is doubling production capacity in China in response to increasing global demand.

Novelis, a global leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, recently announced that it will invest about $180 million to double its automotive aluminum body sheet production at its factory in Changzhou, China. This is Novelis’ second automotive investment for 2018, following the ground breaking of a Kentucky manufacturing facility that is projected to cost $300 million.

The investment will allow the facility to add about 100 kilotons of capacity and will include a continuous annealing solution heat treatment line, high-speed slitter and fully automated packaging line. The factory will supply aluminum products to its global automotive customers as well as Chinese domestic producers.

Novelis Aluminum in Automotive Applications 

Novelis expects to begin expanding the factory this year in order to be operational by 2020. This is deliberate timing to coincide with product launches from some of Novelis’ clients—both traditional and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers—scheduled for 2020-2021.

Earlier this year, Novelis added Chinese e-vehicle startup NIO to its client roster, further expanding its commitment to the EV sector. NIO will use aluminum alloys supplied by Novelis to create a range of EV components.

Automotive aluminum demand is projected to nearly triple worldwide over the next eight years, with the largest potential for growth in China.

“We believe China’s commitment to fuel efficiency and reducing emissions represent a large and favorable opportunity that will require greater adoption of aluminum, particularly in the rapidly growing electric vehicle market,” said Steve Fisher, Novelis president and chief executive officer.

By 2030, aluminum demand from EVs is expected to increase tenfold from 2017, to nearly 10 million tons. In China, the world’s largest auto market, sales of alternative-energy vehicles is expected to grow by 40 percent this year alone to over 1 million vehicles.

Aluminum is much lighter than traditional steel, which is key to offsetting the weight of batteries in order to extend the range of EVs—a crucial factor in making make them more appealing to car buyers. The metal is also far more easily recyclable than steel. However, aluminum continues to be more expensive than steel and the steel industry is making changes to its products to stay competitive with aluminum.

Interested in reading more about developments in aluminum manufacturing? Read Revolutionary Aluminum Process Eliminates Emissions, Produces Oxygen.