Mitsui SKC JV Ponder Mexican Urethane Plant
Mitsui Chemicals joins push to Mexico, eyes urethane plant
TOKYO — Mitsui Chemicals will set up a production site for automotive resin materials in Mexico this spring, joining a growing influx of auto-related companies looking to supply the North American market.
An investment of around 1 billion yen ($8.82 million) will be made through a 50-50 joint venture with South Korean petrochemical company SKC to construct a plant with an annual capacity of 15,000 tons of urethane materials for automobile seat cushions.
The Japanese chemical company had a urethane materials production site in the U.S., but this will be its first such site in Mexico. It has focused plant development in Asia previously but now aims to capture growing North American demand.
Toyota Motor is planning a new plant in Mexico in 2019, and other automakers are also investing to increase production there.
Japan Polypropylene, a member of the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings group, will open a Mexican sales company in April. By summer, it plans to begin subcontracted production of polypropylene composite materials used in automobile bumpers and interiors. The materials will be sold to major Japanese, U.S. and European automakers moving into the area, with initial production expected to be around 1,000 tons a year.
Asahi Kasei last fall started operations at a Mexican subsidiary and plans this year to begin subcontracted production of resin composite materials there. Asahi Glass began making automotive glass at a Mexican plant early this year and plans to double production there.
U.S. new-car sales hit a record in 2015 for the first time in 15 years, benefiting from low gasoline prices. Propelled by the tail wind, many American, European and Japanese automakers plan to open production sites in Mexico to supply the U.S. market.
Mexican automobile production volume, excluding vehicles over 6 tons, is projected to grow 40% from 2015 to 4.75 million vehicles by 2020, market research company IHS Automotive said.