DETROIT — Fina Oil & Chemical Co. of Dallas will open a sales and engineering office in Troy, Mich., in April in an attempt to reach the automotive market with filled polypropylene and impact copolymer PP that the company will begin producing later this year.
``We've never really focused on the automotive market before because we didn't have impact copolymer or filled grades,'' Fina market development director J. Kim Davies said in an interview at SAE '98, held Feb. 23-26 in Detroit. ``But if you don't focus on the automotive market, you're not going to be a player in this industry.''
About 25 percent of the 550 million pounds of PP capacity Fina will add in La Porte, Texas, in November will be impact copolymer PP. Previously, the company's North American PP output was limited to homopolymer and random copolymer grades.
The expansion, using Spheripol technology, will bring Fina's total North American PP capacity to more than 2 billion pounds, ranking the firm among North America's top three PP makers.
In addition, Fina plans to market talc-filled and glass-filled PP grades as well as thermoplastic olefins. The firm increased production of these products in La Porte late last year.
The new products are expected to find uses in exterior and interior trim, under-the-hood applications and fuel systems.
Fina, which is 85 percent owned by Petrofina SA of Brussels, Belgium, has been marketing Petrofina's impact copolymer PP for several months to develop the market for the materials once the La Porte expansion is operational.
Automotive sales and marketing director Michael Rosser said at SAE that customers have been receptive to the fact that Fina will have global capacity to serve the automotive market.
``Automotive engineers are already beginning to design parts with polypropylene in mind,'' Rosser said. ``Our first job will be to let the Detroit market know who Fina is and what we have to offer.''
Rosser said the Troy office will have a dozen employees who will provides sales, product development and technical support.