Kobe Steel (KBSTY) , a Japanese steel manufacturer, started production of aluminum sheets for cars at its plant in Tianjin China, anticipating an uptick in demand for lightweight vehicles as the Chinese government tightens environmental restrictions, Nikkei Asian Review reports.

"We will bolster our manufacturing capability in China and supply high quality aluminum," said Chairman Hiroya Kawasaki at the plant's opening ceremony today.

The Japanese steelmaker estimates the Chinese market for automotive aluminum sheet will expand annually to 300,000 tons from the current 50,000 tons by 2025.

China is the world's largest automobile market, with about 28 million vehicles sold last year.

Kobe Steel is the first Japanese manufacturer to establish an aluminum sheet factory in China.

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