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The Tønder plant serves automotive Tier-1 suppliers and automotive OEMs along with industrial customers. The new 12-inch, 6000-tonne extrusion press will mainly serve automotive customers, adding production capacity and the capability to produce extrusions with larger cross-sections.

“The Tønder plant is an important part of our automotive network, supplying European carmakers with high-end and safety-critical components. We are expecting rapid growth in the automotive industry’s use of extruded aluminium components in the coming years. This is in line with our strategy of lifting profitability and driving sustainability in our automotive business,” says senior vice president Bruno D’hondt, who leads Hydro’s Extrusion Europe business unit.

Hydro Extrusions serves the automotive industry from a network of specialized plants in Europe. The new press in Tønder will share the same setup as the existing 12-inch automotive press at the sister plant in Székesfehérvár, Hungary.

Automotive needs more sustainable aluminium for range and safety

Aluminium has been the material of choice for automotive components such as structural and safety-critical parts for years. Its favorable strength-to-weight ratio has contributed to keeping the weight of the vehicle low enough to get the desired driving range. In addition, aluminium’s ability to absorb energy has made extruded aluminium profiles the best choice for crash management applications. These characteristics are even more important with the current electrification trend in the automotive industry.

By electrifying their vehicles, carmakers are removing carbon emissions from the use phase of vehicles. But there is still the challenge of removing emissions from the vehicle’s full life cycle, including the materials used in production. The carbon footprint of aluminium components is low if the aluminium is produced with renewable energy or recycled, and when the extrusion process and machining operations are powered by renewable energy.

The Tønder plant sources low-carbon and recycled aluminium from Hydro and has direct access to Hydro RESTORE recycled aluminium produced at the Sjunnen recycling operation in Sweden. The entire production process in Tønder, including extrusion and fabrication, is based on renewable hydro power from Sweden, and the new press will use the newest technology on the market, which means that its energy consumption will be low.

The Tønder plant has two extrusion presses and serves automotive and industrial customers
The Tønder plant has two extrusion presses and serves automotive and industrial customers. Photo: Kristian Kvistgaard-Persson/Hydro

The new press in Tønder will be used to extrude components for electrical vehicles and hybrids. At the adjacent fabrication center, the profiles from the 12-inch press will be fabricated to advanced components that meet the strict requirements from automotive customers.

Examples of extruded automotive components include battery frame applications, crash management systems such as bumper beams and crash boxes, as well as side sill inserts, side beams and longitudinal beams.

Investing to keep up with the automotive demand

Hydro has two plants in Tønder, in addition to several satellite locations, an extrusions sales office, an aluminium building systems sales office, and hundreds of suppliers and customers across Denmark.

The investment at the extrusion plant will create approximately 40 new jobs, adding to the current 300 employees at the plant. Hydro’s precision tubing plant employs 470 people, and the total number of Hydro employees in Denmark is more than 770.

“The Tønder plant was built in 1975, and now that the 50-year anniversary is approaching, we are happy to invest for the future and create new jobs. The Danish team has an excellent track record over many years, and with this investment we expect continued excellence from the team,” says D’hondt.

Hydro expects to extrude the first billet from the new press in mid-2024.