DETROIT -- General Motors is poised to become the auto industry's largest buyer of wheels in China.
GM purchasing czar Bo Andersson said last week that GM will replace wheels made by Amcast Industrial Corp. in Indiana with aluminum wheels made in China by Zhejiang Wanfeng Auto Wheel Co. Ltd.
Amcast, of Fremont, Ind., sought Chapter 11 protection in December, just months after emerging from a previous reorganization. The company briefly cut off shipments that month to GM, causing delays in Corvette deliveries.
On April 11, Amcast announced plans to close plants in Fremont and Gas City, Ind., by mid-June. About 500 people will lose their jobs, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
Andersson, GM's vice president of global purchasing, said Amcast has an exclusive eight-year deal to buy wheels from Zhejiang Wanfeng. GM acquired that contract in bankruptcy court proceedings for $6 million, he said.
That agreement meant that some of the wheels GM had been buying from Amcast already were coming from China. The new arrangement, and the closure of the Amcast plants, will increase that percentage.
GM had accounted for 80 percent of Amcast's business.
GM has propped up Amcast since its financial crisis erupted last November. Amcast, which supplied 13 GM assembly plants, stopped shipping wheels on Nov. 30. It resumed shipments to GM on Dec. 7, two days after the automaker won a court order forcing the supplier to do so.
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