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Fluid systems provider TI Automotive has ventured south of the border to San Luis Potosí, Mexico for the opening of its third North American—and 24th worldwide—fuel-tank systems manufacturing plant. The $7.7-million, 83,500 ft² facility will produce low-emission, light-weight, blow-molded plastic fuel tank systems beginning in May 2011 for three Nissan models, the Versa, Note and Micra (the latter two are not available in the U.S. market).
Compared to standard steel fuel tanks, plastic tanks offer a 30% weight reduction and greater packaging flexibility, says Oyvind Knudsen, TI Automotive director of global manufacturing engineering. Other advantages of the material include greater durability and easier internal component integration capability. The blow-molding line can produce one fuel tank every 50 seconds. After molding, the tanks are cooled and undergo a 50-minute aging process to dimensionally stabilize. Currently, the facility has one blow-molding line, but features the capacity for three. It's also capable of producing fuel tanks for partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs), tanks for low emission vehicles (LEVs) and tanks for hybrid applications.
Bill Kozyra, TI Automotive chairman, CEO and president, said the facility's central location allows for convenient access to Mexico-based Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen assembly plants.
Along with fuel tanks, the facility will also produce fuel pumps and modules in a 3,200-ft² space starting in July 2011. Among those that will be produced include the Dual-Channel Single-Stage (DCSS) pump, which offer improved efficiency, higher fuel pressures and increased pump life compared to conventional fuel pumps. DCSS pumps feature a thermoplastic impeller, aluminum anodized pumping chambers and a 26-mm motor. Its dual high-pressure design maintains velocity by splitting flow between inner and outer paths, with pumping sections working in parallel.—EF