SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — German specialty chemicals and plastics maker Lanxess AG will open its seventh factory in Brazil by the end of this year or early 2014. The facility, in Porto Feliz, will include a mega-extruder to make nylon and polybutylene terephthalate compounds.
"Automotives is the high-growth sector in Brazil, more and more global [manufacturers] are building new factories here," said Andreas M. Scheurell, the company's LATAM general manager, in an interview at Feiplastic in São Paulo.
Major automakers are also pushing more uniformity across their global platforms, creating a greater need for global suppliers like Lanxess, he added.
The new plant will make compounds at very high volumes that are tailored to specific needs from the Brazilian and Latin American auto industries. Investment details for the new Brazilian plant were not shared.
Lanxess is making a large bet on the future of this segment, producing engineering compounds already in Germany, China, India and the United States. The group expects plastics to replace metal in cars to reduce weight, a shift Brazilian automakers are expected to make over the next few years to comply with higher national fuel economy standards.
Brazil accounts for about 10 percent of Lanxess' global sales, which closed 2012 with 9.1 billion euros ($11.7 billion).
Lanxess' facility in Porto Feliz already produces inorganic pigments from iron oxide for the construction industry, as well as paints, plastics and bladders for tire manufacturing. The tire bladder unit was officially inaugurated in May, in which $12.3 million was invested to produce 170,000 units per year.
In addition to two plants in Porto Feliz, the group has a synthetic rubber unit in Cabo de Santo Agostinho; two rubber plants in Triunfo; and a rubber plant in Duque de Caxias. The company announced a $103 million investment in March to turn one of the Triunfo plants into a producer of high-performance rubber for "green" tires.