May 2, 2013 / 2:46 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Alcoa to spend $275 million to boost auto sheet capacity

May 2 (Reuters) - Alcoa Inc plans to invest $275 million over three years to boost the capacity of a Tennessee plant to produce aluminum sheet for the automotive industry, the company said on Thursday.

Alcoa will expand the facility in Alcoa, Tennessee, and convert some of its can sheet capacity into automotive sheet production. It did not specify how much automotive sheet capacity would rise.

Aluminum can sales are expected to slow in the United States this year as more consumers cut their soda consumption in favor of healthier options that are not usually sold in cans, such as water.

At the same time, Alcoa expects to quadruple aluminum sheet sales to automakers by 2015 as tough new environmental standards push car manufacturers to reduce the weight of their vehicles. Aluminum is more expensive than conventional steel but is much lighter.

The company said the changes at the Tennessee plant would add 200 full-time and 400 temporary construction jobs.

Alcoa said on Wednesday it was considering shutting down an additional 11 percent of its aluminum smelting capacity due to weak aluminum prices. It already has 13 percent sitting idle.

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