NAGOYA -- Daido Steel has decided to build a neodymium magnet factory in the U.S. to meet growing demand from automakers there for motors used in hybrid and electric vehicles.
The plan is to initially spend several billion yen -- the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars -- to get the plant up and running by 2019. More equipment will be added later in a stepwise fashion between then and 2026. Investment will ultimately total around 10 billion yen.
The Japanese maker of specialty steels and magnetic materials is the fourth-largest producer of high-performance neodymium magnets in Japan, after the big three of Shin-Etsu Chemical, Hitachi Metals and TDK.
Daido Steel already operates factories for neodymium magnets in Thailand and the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Suzhou, making the American site its fourth overseas production base.
The company also plans to reorganize the group's magnetic business, merging subsidiaries Daido Electronics and Intermetallics Japan next January to unify production, development and sales activities.
Daido Steel and Daido Electronics worked with Honda Motor to develop a neodymium magnet that does not use any heavy rare-earth elements. The Japanese automaker plans to employ this magnet in hybrid systems of new models.
Intermetallics Japan specializes in high-purity, resource-saving sintered magnets and has supplied them to BMW since 2013 for hybrid vehicles.