In the past week, the auto industry has made significant strides to increase its usage of aluminum in manufacturing. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, as this was a theme of Aluminum Week 2012 and Tesla’s aluminum-body Model S won Car Of The Year from both Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine. However, it’s a good sign at the aluminum industry’s growing importance for car manufacturing.

One key indicator of this comes from global aluminum company Novelis. Novelis just announced expansion plans for an aluminum auto sheet plant in China. Novelis is recognized as a leader in rolled aluminum and its products are used in everything from beverage cans (that Coke you’re drinking? Novelis produced the can) to smartphone components to car components. From PR Newswire via Herald Online:

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, officially broke ground today on the company’s first aluminum manufacturing plant in China. The $100 million investment is designed to meet the rapidly growing demand for rolled aluminum used in the design of a new generation of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The wholly owned plant under construction in Changzhou in the Jiangsu Province, will have a capacity of 120,000 metric tons per year, further strengthening Novelis’ position as the world’s largest producer of aluminum sheet products used to create vehicle structures and body panels. Startup of the new facility, the industry’s first automotive sheet plant in China, is planned for late 2014.

With the aluminum industry still glowing from Tesla’s award-winning Model S, it’s likely that you’ll see further direct investment in aluminum-based auto manufacturing in the future.

Onward and upward!