BMW has signed a long-term agreement with Magnesium Elektron to supply the magnesium alloy that will be used on the latest generation of 6 cylinder petrol engines, launched in the autumn of this year on the new 6 series and due out on the new 3 series in Spring 2005.
The multi-million pound agreement follows a three-year relationship between the two companies, in which time Magnesium Elektron has played a key role in the supply of a number of alloy variants during the development of the new engine. Both companies have worked in association with alloy system designer, Noranda Magnesium.
“This is excellent news for Magnesium Elektron’s Manchester operations,” says Chris Dagger, Divisional Managing Director for the company. To date, manufacture of the new alloy has been out of Magnesium Elektron’s principle foundry in Manchester, which is where the majority of Magnesium Elektron’s high performance aerospace alloys are manufactured. From January 2005, production will transfer to a dedicated production unit on the same site in which there has been an investment of £2.5 million over the last three years. This dedicated unit will be capable of producing the volumes required for the BMW project, with additional capacity being available should further automotive programs come on stream.
Over the past three years, Magnesium Elektron has had a very close technical relationship with BMW and alloy system designer Noranda Magnesium, ensuring the final product met the mechanical demands of the engine whilst also having the necessary processing parameters to allow downstream manufacturing in a series production environment.
Graham Wardlow, Head of Sales & Marketing for Magnesium Elektron, adds “during this period of development, Magnesium Elektron has developed a major core competence in the alloy technology and this has enabled us to offer BMW a reliable, cost effective solution for the long term supply of the alloy. Our decision to dedicate one of our main foundries to the production of this new alloy system is a clear illustration of our commitment to the BMW engine program and Magnesium Elektron’s position as a leading supplier of lightweight magnesium alloys to the automotive industry.”
Magnesium Elektron began production of magnesium in 1936 at its Manchester plant and subsequently developed a wide range of magnesium alloy systems and products. The company is part of the Luxfer Group, an international manufacturer of high performance engineering materials including magnesium alloys, zirconium products, aluminium tube and high pressure gas cylinders.