Automotive

Today in MetalCrawler, losses widened at a major stainless steel manufacturer, an aluminum giant gets a new CEO and two design and construction software companies team up for better workflows for HVAC designers and installers.

AK Steel Loss Widens

AK Steel Holding Corp. said its first-quarter loss widened from a year earlier on a big write-down related to its investment in iron-ore pellet joint venture Magnetation LLC.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

Average selling prices fell 8.9% from a year earlier, while shipments increased 39%, with a boost from an acquisition and strong demand from the automotive sector.

Ohio-based AK Steel in March predicted that shipments of carbon and stainless steel to the automotive market would remain strong because of market demand. However, the company warned that it expected its shipments to decline 14% from the fourth quarter to roughly 1.7 million tons on weakness in the carbon steel spot market, which AK Steel attributed to rising imports.

Martens Leaves Novelis

Novelis Inc., the US’ largest aluminum recycling and rolling company, has announced the departure of Philip Martens as the company’s president and CEO. Replacing Martens as president on an interim basis is Steve Fisher. Novelis says it has begun a search for a permanent CEO.

Martens, a former Ford Motor Co. executive, joined Novelis in 2009. During his tenure with Novelis the company shifted its focus toward servicing the automobile industry.

Vulcan Works With AECOsim for Ductwork

Geo-positioning and construction software manufacturer Trimble recently started supporting new construction modeling workflows with enhanced integration between Bentley Systems‘ AECOsim Building Designer software and Trimble’s Vulcan sheet metal cutting software for the HVAC market. The new workflow integration enables design models to be shared easily, securely and accurately. The move expands the companies’ ongoing collaboration around “Construction Modeling” and enhanced information mobility.

Vulcan is a sheet metal cutting software product for HVAC contractors, design/build firms and duct manufacturers, who rely on the software to increase shop productivity, plan duct design and installation and reduce waste.

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MetalCrawler has a case of the Mondays as steel prices in China are being cut even more to try to spur sales.

China Steel Cuts Prices Deeply

China Steel Corp. announced Friday a deeper-than-expected price cut of 7.4% on average for its products to be shipped to local customers in June, as sluggish demand is adding pressure on the profits of China’s biggest steelmaker this quarter.

NHTSA Approves of F-150 Crash Compatibility

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave its top rating to the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 Super Crew, granting it five stars for both the frontal and side impact tests and four stars for the rollover rating.

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The previous model, with a steel body, got an overall rating of four stars, and only three stars for the frontal crash. Safety ratings have not yet been released by the other US group that conducts crash-testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), whose tests are generally regarded as even more stringent than NHTSA’s.

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Investments in automotive aluminum keep popping up in MetalCrawler.

Constellium Expands Plant

Aluminum manufacturer Constellium recently said it has invested $40 million for a 210,000-square-foot expansion of its Detroit are plant to meet the increasing demand for aluminum by automotive manufacturers.

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Constellium has hired nearly 200 additional workers at the Van Buren site and will employ a total of 370 there after it hires about 20 additional workers.

Freeport Plans to Expand

Freeport McMoRan Inc. is expanding and that has it poised to become the world’s biggest copper producer at a time of slowing China growth.

The Phoenix-based company will close the gap with current world No. 1 Codelco next year after expanding mines in Peru and the US and as the Chilean state-owned company runs out of profitable ore at a mine in the Atacama Desert.

US Dollar Climbing Again

Gold eased Monday as the US dollar gained ground against other currencies, sapping foreign investors’ interest in the dollar-denominated metal.

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Spring is a time of renewal and nothing could use a good rebound more than our metal markets. Free Download: Cut Your Overseas Metal Shipping Costs While most of the metals are still down for the year, some of them actually rallied this month and showed positive growth, some for the first time in 2015. […]

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With April's reading, MetalMiner's monthly price index tracking metals used in the automotive industry has stanched its general downward slide – the index dipped below the baseline of 100 in February 2014 and has been trending down since. The monthly Automotive MMI® registered a value of 85 in April, on par with March's value (check out last month's report). But with most base metals markets in a bearish mode, this index may have further to fall.

The downward slide had particularly begun accelerating in Q4 of last year and has continued through Q1 2015, a sign that the auto index's basket of metals has seen the same bearish treatment as the Raw Steels, Stainless and Aluminum MMIs.

US Auto Sales 'n Oil Prices–March 2015

Of the US Big Three, GM and Ford's March sales both dropped this year compared to March 2014, while Chrysler gained nearly 2% in its monthly sales over last year. However, both GM and Chrysler's year-to-date sales so far in 2015 are quite robust over the same amount of time in 2014 (5.3% and 6.5%, respectively), while Ford's YTD sales are also in the green.

Bargain-basement oil prices have helped consumers at the gas pump, which in turn has spurred sales. Light truck sales, for example, have been outpacing car sales for the past 15 months, and have spiked to their highest level in several years in March 2015. Primary metal producers are on the bullish demand bandwagon as well – Alcoa recently received the promise of government cash for lightweight auto-grade aluminum production.

Essentially, the automotive OEMs and their suppliers should be paying close attention to our Automotive MMI® trend – with finished steel, aluminum, platinum and palladium at multi-month lows, while consumer vehicle demand appears to be high, some spot buying could be in order...but we can't say for sure how much further this index has to fall. MetalMiner will, however, be offering an exclusive automotive metal market outlook...

SRM Automotive Summit

If you happen to be in Southeast Michigan in May – and chances are, if you work for an auto OEM or many of their suppliers, you already will be – join MetalMiner Executive Editor Lisa Reisman at the POOL4TOOL SRM Automotive Summit, to be held at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham on Friday, May 22.

Lisa will present "Sourcing Strategies for the Automotive Metals: H2 2015." Don't miss out this analysis and a great overall event – register here.

This Month's Actual Metal Prices: Automotive MMI®

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Today in MetalCrawler we’re happy to report new investment in cold-rolled steel production and 100 new industry jobs. Novelis continues to do its part for recycled aluminum products, too.

100% Recycled Aluminum

Novelis, Inc. has launched the first independently certified material to be made of 100% recycled aluminum.

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The first product in the evercycle portfolio is designed for aluminum food containers. It is certified by SCS Global Services to contain 100% recycled aluminum, made up of 90% post-consumer content and 10% customer manufacturing scrap.

Evercycle is commercially available now in North America and it expects it to become available elsewhere soon.

New Life for Detroit Steel Plant

Ferrous CAL Co. of Cleveland plans to invest $53 million in the former McLouth Steel and Detroit Cold Rolling plant in Gibraltar, Mich.

The Wayne County Commission voted unanimously today to OK a brownfield cleanup for the mostly inactive steel plant site.

Ferrous CAL bought the plant last month and plans to upgrade and clean the 42.5-acre site to produce steel for automotive companies and other customers. The company expects to create 100 jobs as part of its investment, and 15 employees who were already working at the site will keep their jobs.

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MetalMiner™ invades Southeast Michigan! Join us on Friday, May 22 for the POOL4TOOL SRM Automotive Summit at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan. Our own Lisa Reisman, CEO, Azul Partners and Executive Editor, MetalMiner, will serve as keynote speaker for the event and will cover Sourcing Strategies for the Automotive Metals H2 2015. You can register for this FREE event, here.

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Car aficionados are an excitable lot.

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A couple of days ago, Jaguar revealed its sleek, XF model to the world. Though 7-millimeters shorter and 3 mm lower than the car it replaces, the all-new XF has more rear space, more legroom, knee room and headroom. As is the case with any launch of a new car, enthusiasts just cannot stop raving about details such as horsepower, fuel consumption, and high-tech mumbo jumbo.

Yet, for metal analysts and, dare I say lovers (such as we her at MetalMiner), one thing about the new Jaguar XF that stands out is its weight. Or rather, the lack of it. The car, because of the extensive use of automotive aluminum (75% in its overall architecture), is 190 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, and 80 kg lighter than some rivals. That includes a lighter engine, too, which, for car lovers, translates into high mileage and lower pollution.

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LME copper prices, Chinese lead prices, and Korean aluminum premium prices rose this week, while US HDG steel prices and US palladium prices dropped. For exact price points of all of these and more, click below!

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As someone who cut his eye teeth on a Yamaha YDS7 — yes, Google it and you’ll find they stopped making them decades ago — I have always had a soft spot for the Japanese manufacturer’s excellent two-stroke bikes.

Buying a New Car on an Overseas Vacation? Lock in Your Shipment Costs

On the track and in terms of sales, Yamaha Motor Corp. has always played second fiddle to their bigger rival Honda Motor Co. Ltd. but that has generally been a spur to innovation rather than a limitation. After a couple of abortive attempts in the past, Yamaha is finally getting serious, they say, about evolving from two wheels to four.

Personally, I am not sure it is such a great idea but if you are going to do it this approach sounds better than the motorcycle manufacturer’s previous attempts. According to the Financial Times, Yamaha is teaming up with Gordon Murray, the former Formula One car designer, to launch a two-seater commuter vehicle in Europe as early as 2019. The design is for a two-door, two-seater similar to a concept car showcased in 2013 called the Motiv.

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