Asahi Tec Plans Another Chinese Wheel Venture

Group aims to double aluminum wheel output in China

April 13, 2007 — Asahi Tec Corp. is planning its second aluminum-wheel manufacturing joint venture with China's Wheelhorse Aluminum Casting Co., Ltd., Zengcheng City, Guangzhou. The 1-million wheels/year operation, Wheelhorse Asahi Aluminum Co. Ltd., will be in production by the end of this year, and will double Asahi Tec's aluminum wheel production capacity in China.

Shizuoka, Japan-based Asahi Tec has a joint-venture operation, Dicastal Asahi Aluminum, producing 1 million wheels/year.

Wheelhorse is a subsidiary of the Dongling Group, a conglomerate that operates auto parts manufacturing companies, and is involved also in grain processing and hotel management.

The value of the new venture is reported to be 50 million yuan renminbi, or roughly $6.4 million. Asahi Tec will control 30% of the new venture, and Wheelhorse Aluminum will maintain the remaining 70%.

Wheelhorse Asahi Aluminum will use Asahi Tec's low-pressure diecasing process, Asahi New Casting (ANC), as well as center-gate low-pressure diecasting. The ANC method evolved from the center-gate LPD, but offers an advantage in that the wheel's design surface can be cooled rapidly because of two gates, on each side of the mold, rather than a single gate on the designed side of a wheel. Asahi Tec explains that the aluminum alloy "gains strength and inner quality consistency with rapid cooling, thus realizing thin-walled, lightweight, and strong aluminum wheels with refined metal structure."

Asahi Tec is a global designer and manufacturer of ductile-iron castings for automotive, truck, and construction machinery OEMs; aluminum castings for truck and passenger car OEMs; and aluminum wheels. Its subsidiary, Metaldyne designs and manufactures of metal components, assemblies, and modules for powertrain and chassis applications, including engine, transmission/transfer case, wheel-end and suspension, axle and driveline, and noise and vibration control products.

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