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Auto sector blips from chip shortage to have limited drag on aluminum demand: Novelis CEO


OEMs prioritizing popular models with greater aluminum content

Rollers able to divert capacity to other markets, such as cans

Pittsburgh — Aluminum demand should take only a limited hit in the automotive sector over the next quarter, even as vehicle manufacturers experience production disruptions caused by a global semiconductor shortage, Novelis CEO Steven Fisher said May 12.

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"While we do expect to see some impact to our automotive shipments in [the next quarter], we believe it would be relatively limited as OEMs are prioritizing their production towards larger and more high-end vehicles like SUVs and EVs that favor aluminum," Fisher said during an earnings call with analysts.

Fisher said Novelis was also in a position to divert its capacity to other customer bases, regions or end markets to mitigate any larger impact it may experience from the automotive sector beyond the next quarter. Beverage cans continue to be a strong sector where the company can redirect production, he added.

"We see increased customer demand for volumes for the foreseeable future as new beverage can-making capacity is slated to come online over the next couple of years across all regions," he said.

While Novelis has no current plans to add more aluminum sheet capacity for the beverage can industry, Fisher said the company is attempting to optimize its current facilities to increase can sheet production as US demand outstrips supply.

"We, as a can sheet industry, are full up trying to supply the current demand of our customers, let alone the growth that we're going to see over the next couple of years," he said. "We absolutely will need to work to continue to debottleneck and invest in debottlenecking activities in the North American marketplace to stay up with that demand."

Novelis shipped 983,000 mt of flat-rolled aluminum products in the fourth quarter of its 2020-21 fiscal year (April-March), rising 21% year on year.

The Atlanta-based flat-rolled aluminum producer posted a net income of $176 million on sales of $3.63 billion in Q4, compared with a $63 million income on $2.73 billion in sales in the year-ago period.