Alcoa (NYSE:AA) officially opened its expanded wheels manufacturing plant in Hungary that doubles Alcoa’s capacity to produce its Dura-Bright EVO surface-treated wheels compared to 2014 production levels.
The expansion will enable Alcoa to meet growing European demand for its lightweight, durable, low-maintenance aluminum truck wheels.
“This expansion positions Alcoa to capture increasing demand for our innovative aluminum truck wheels in Europe, including our easiest-to-clean wheels that look new longer, reduce maintenance costs, and increase payload and fuel efficiency,” said Tim Myers, President, Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products. “Our investments in forged aluminum truck wheels support Alcoa’s broader strategy to build out our value-add businesses and gain profitable share in growing downstream markets. Sales of aluminum truck wheels are expected to increase from 30 percent of global sales in 2010 to 50 percent in 2018.”
Construction of the $13 million expansion was completed on schedule and will create 35 new permanent jobs in Hungary once the facility reaches full capacity. Demonstrating its support for the project, the Hungarian Government agreed to contribute $4.4 million through its Regional Operative Program, a government-led economic development initiative.
“Alcoa has enjoyed a long and very successful history in Hungary and we look forward to building on this positive track record with this expansion,” said Dr. Béla Forgó, Country Manager of Alcoa Hungary. “In addition, today Alcoa launched a pilot project with the regional Székesfehérvár city bus system to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of our wheels for public transportation.”
Under the pilot program with the regional Székesfehérvár city bus operator, a number of buses will be outfitted with Alcoa’s wheels. Bus operators in other municipalities have realized up to five percent fuel savings after converting from steel wheels to Alcoa’s forged aluminum wheels.
Alcoa’s Dura-Bright EVO surface-treated wheel is 10 times more resistant to corrosion primarily caused by road salts and weather elements than its predecessor, the Dura-Bright wheel with XBR technology. Unlike competitive surface coatings that can crack, peel, corrode and dull quickly, the Dura-Bright surface-treated wheel allows brilliant shine to last even after years of use, without the need for polishing. Dura-Bright is not a coating, but rather a surface treatment that penetrates the aluminum and becomes an integral part of the wheel. Regular cleaning with commonly used truck cleaning products or with just soap and water will keep the wheels shiny, even after hundreds of washes and thousands of kilometers, reducing maintenance costs. In addition, Alcoa’s wheels are made from one piece of forged aluminum, making them lighter and five times stronger than steel wheels, increasing payload and fuel efficiency.