Alloy wheel maker ATS expands to USA

Bad Duerkheim, Germany. In July the alloy wheel producer ATS will open a plant in Auburn, Alabama, USA. The 350 American workers will manufacture more than 2 million alloy wheels per year using a low-pressure casting process.

"This new plant is our entry ticket into the US market. It will enable us to increase our turnover for the coming business year to more than 300 million euros," ATS boss Hans Pfahl told Automobilwoche.

In the year to June 30, 2003 the wheel manufacturer will reach a turnover of more than 250 million euros, compared to 200 million euros the year before.

It has 1,600 employees and two locations in Germany (Bad Duerkheim and Werdohl), plus a factory in Poland and one in South Africa. For the business year 2003/ 2004 ATS hopes to increase its sales to 5.2 million alloy wheels.

It sold 4.4 million and 3.2 million aluminum rims in the previous two years.

Nearly all automobile manufacturers are customers of ATS. This year it will supply 120,000 alloy wheels to Porsche, some 800,000 wheels each to Audi and Opel, and 1 million units each will for Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. ATS' estimated market share in Europe is approximately 17 percent and its worldwide share is 8 percent, which puts the company on the same level as Borbet in Hallenberg and Ronal in Landau.

ATS, or Automobil Technisches Zubehör und Spezialerzeugnisse (Automotive Technical Accessories and Specialty Products), was founded in 1972 by the former Formula One racing team owner Guenther Schmitt. He sold ATS to the foundry Stahlschmidt & Maiworm in 1986, which in 1998 merged with TSW (Tiger Sports Wheels) from South Africa.

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