ThyssenKrupp AG said today it will begin producing carbon steel for automotive uses at a new Alabama factory in 2010, even as it delays production of stainless steel at the plant.
Speaking at the companys annual general meeting in Germany, CEO Ekkehard Schulz said North America remains one of the biggest volume markets for carbon steel, and the capacities of local steel companies are insufficient to meet demand for premium products.
Even in light of the crisis, the fundamental reasons for our strategic engagement in the U.S.A. have not changed, Schulz said in a speech reprinted on the companys Web site.
Schulz said the trend toward energy-efficient vehicles will increase demand for the type of premium, flat-steel products that ThyssenKrupp plans to produce at the Alabama plant. Besides the auto industry, other target markets include electrical goods manufacturers and steel service centers.
The $3.7 billion plant under construction near Mobile, Ala., is a joint project of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA and ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA. Production of carbon steel and stainless steel was to begin in March 2010.
In a statement, ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA said the delay in stainless steel production is necessary to more accurately and successfully coordinate with global conditions and forecasted U.S. stainless steel market demands in 2010.
ThyssenKrupp USA Inc., of suburban Detroit, ranks No. 10 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 North American suppliers, with estimated sales to automakers of $3.88 billion in fiscal 2007.