March 23, 2007 — Georg Fischer AG is planning to build a new iron foundry at Kunshan, China, which will begin operation in the spring of 2009 and supply safety components to the local automotive industry. The Swiss-based manufacturer already has light-metal foundry and diecasting operations in China, part of its GF Automotive division, and says that adding iron casting there will "(make) the most of its worldwide technological leadership to continue growing profitably in this fast expanding branch of Chinese industry."
Explaining its decision, GF pointed to growing demand for automotive safety components (steering knuckles, wheel carriers, and transverse rods) made of spheroidal graphite, demand that is fueled by tightening regulations on automobile exhausts and limits on fuel consumption. Also, China's commercial vehicle industry is undergoing steady growth in demand for high-strength cast-iron components.
The new plant — which will operate as Georg Fischer Automotive (Kunshan) Co. Ltd. — will be built in the Kunshan Economic & Technical Development Zone, and is being design for "modular expansion." The location is about 30 km from Georg Fischer's light metal foundry in Suzhou.
GF said the the first phase of the project is budgeted at an estimated $41 million (50 million Swiss francs), to be spread over three years. The group says it already has sufficient orders to operate the foundry at high capacity in its planned initial phase.