PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Aluminium products makers Constellium NV and UACJ Corp will form a joint venture in the United States to supply the auto industry in response to growing demand for light-weight materials, the companies said on Thursday.
Car manufacturers are turning to aluminium to raise fuel efficiency in line with new regulations, and some analysts expect a fivefold increase this year in the auto aluminium sheet market in the United States.
Dutch-based Constellium and Japan's UACJ plan to invest about $150 million to develop a production facility for aluminium sheet for car bodies, with an initial capacity target of 100,000 tonnes, they said in a joint statement.
The partners aim to launch production in the first half of 2016, a Constellium spokesman told Reuters, adding they would probably develop a new site rather than add a line at an existing plant.
Constellium will take a 51 percent stake in the venture alongside UACJ's U.S. subsidiary Tri-Arrows Aluminium Inc., with the agreement to be finalised in the first half of this year.
The move comes after Constellium chief executive Pierre Vareille said this month the group would announce in the first quarter plans to expand in the U.S. auto sector.
Constellium, whose roots lie in former French aluminium group Pechiney, also announced last week it would invest 200 million euros in the next three years to raise its capacity for car body sheet in Europe.