A strong automotive market in North America has prompted Japan's Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo) to expand compounding capacity for polypropylene automotive grades at its affiliate Advanced Composites, Inc. (Sidney, OH). The 14,000-tonnes/yr expansion slated for the fourth quarter of 2013 will follow immediately after a previously announced 28,000-tonnes/yr boost scheduled for the third quarter of 2013. Overall capacity will thus reach 268,000 tonnes/yr across two sites in Ohio and Tennessee.
Mitsui Chemicals' move reflects continued strong sales of automobiles by Japanese automakers in the US. The two largest automakers, General Motors and Ford, lost market share in 2012, with Toyota and Honda scoring the biggest gains in share. Sales at Toyota, for example, were up by 9% in 2012, to 1.35 million out of total industry sales of 14.5 million (the best year since 2007). Toyota's market share came it at around 9.3%. The OEM also reported hybrid sales increasing by 83% year-on-year to more than 325,000 vehicles....