Spanish automotive parts maker Gestamp is investing an initial €37m ($39m) to build its first plant in Japan for the supply of hot stamped parts to the domestic market.
Hot stamping is a method of forming ultra high strength steel into complex shapes using heated blanks resulting in lighter components.
L to R: mayor of Matsusaka, Masato Takegami, CEO of Mitsui, Tatsuo Yosunaga, chairman of Gestamp, Francisco Riberas, and the governor of Mie Prefecture, Eikei Suzuki
Gestamp said it was ready to supply all of the main carmakers based there and is known to supply Honda and Toyota in other parts of the world. The plant is in Masusaka, in Mie prefecture, where Honda Motor also has a plant, though the company did not name any customers in Japan.
The company has been supplying hot stamped parts for Japanese OEMs in a number of markets around the world but is now looking to target them domestically. "We are serving OEMs in several continents and we hope now they may rely on us also in their home market," said a spokesperson for Gestamp.
The plant, called Gestamp Hot Stamping Japan, is expected to start supplying the parts, which include metal body-in-white components, from the first half of 2018. Investment in it could rise to €65m with a planned second phase of development, according to the company.
The localisation of supply in Japan is expected to bring savings in terms of logistics and transport costs as well as effect more timely delivery but the supplier said it was also about working with its customers from the start to better understand their requirements.
“Being close to clients will save costs and improve the supply chain, and will make Gestamp more competitive for Japanese carmakers,” a spokesperson for the company told Automotive Logistics. “The major benefit for Gestamp entering Japan is that we will obtain a better understanding of the Japanese OEMs needs and will help the company to enter on an earlier co-development phase with them…Becoming part of the automotive Japanese supply chain is a milestone that will make Gestamp more competitive and will reinforce our costumer trust worldwide.”
Gestamp has two phases of development planned on a plot of land measuring almost 60,000 sq.m. The first 15,000 sq.m facility will manufacture metal body-in-white parts, with details of the second to follow.
Regarding logistics support, at this stage Gestamp said that it would depend of the clients’ requirements and the type of product needed.
“We are open to work in logistics with another tier one or directly with the customer,” said the company’s spokesperson.
Gestamp held a ceremony in the city of Matsusaka, which was attended by the governor of Mie Prefecture, Eikei Suzuki, the mayor of Matsusaka, Masato Takegami, the CEO of Mitsui, Tatsuo Yosunaga and the chairman of Gestamp, Francisco Riberas (pictured).
Gestamp has an existing relationship with Japanese conglomerate Mitsui, which bought a 12% stake in the Spanish company at the end of last year for €416m and has had a 30% stake in its American operations since 2013.
This latest announcement follows the opening of Gestamp’s first hot stamping plant in India earlier this month. The company made a similar investment of €36m in a facility in Pune that will provide services for Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA), Ford and Tata.