Walbro adding capacity in Michigan and Thailand for non-automotive fuel tanks

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TUCSON, ARIZ. (Aug. 15, 12:55 p.m. ET) — Walbro Engine Management is adding production capacity in North America and Asia to blow mold multi-layer fuel tanks for non-automotive customers who must meet new emissions standards.

The Tucson, Ariz.-based company added a third blow molding machine at its Cass City, Mich., plant earlier this year, and will bring in a fourth machine during the fourth quarter of this year, the company said in an Aug. 12 news release.

In addition, it is building a new blow molding plant in Chonburi, Thailand, for customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The plant will launch production by the end of this year with one line and is designed for expansions as needed, with capacity for multiple machines.

Walbro began making six-layer plastic tanks in 2007, and turned out its one millionth tank in 2010. It expects to make 1 million tanks in 2011 alone and double that capacity in 2012 on its way to making 3 million tanks in 2013.

The company was once the small engine division of Walbro Corp., which was purchased by TI Automotive in 1999. TI later spun off the smell engine group in a sale to Sun Capital Partners Inc. in 2007, and the private financial group established Walbro Engine Management as an independent firm.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and some state air quality boards are requiring improved emission controls from non-automotive gasoline-powered engines such as those on recreational equipment and lawn mowers. Walbro’s multi-layer tanks meet those standards, which is driving demand for its products, said Chris Quick, global fuel systems director for Walbro.

Walbro also makes complete tank systems with fuel pumps, filtration, valves and hoses along with carburetors, ignition systems and other small engine parts.