February 2019

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to www.RandleReport.com. For all economic development projects announced in the South, go to www.SB-D.com.

Manufacturing adding more jobs than any year in the last 30 years
The manufacturing industry posted net job gains of 284,000 in calendar year 2018. That is the largest increase since 1997. In December, the manufacturing sector added 32,000 jobs. Most of the gains were in durable goods, such as machinery, furniture, automotive and aerospace. The nation created a net gain of 207,000 manufacturing jobs in 2017.

It’s not just automobiles Alabama makes; the state made almost 1.6 million engines in 2018
Mazda and Toyota are building their joint plant in Huntsville, the latest automotive plant to announce a facility in the state. Soon Mazda and Toyota will join Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz, making Alabama the only U.S. state to be home to four foreign-owned assembly plants. In addition, Alabama workers built almost 1.6 million engines in calendar year 2018. Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville led the way with 630,000 engines built. Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery produced 597,000 engines and Honda’s plant in Talladega County produced 356,000 engines.

U.S. industry groups send appeal to Trump to end U.S. metals tariffs
Four dozen U.S.-based industry groups sent a letter of appeal to the Trump administration in January asking to put an end to the steep U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The appeal centered on the metal tariffs creating economic hardship for those who use imported metal for final assembly of a variety of products, including automotive and aerospace. The industries are also suffering from the retaliation of tariffs by Mexico, European nations and China.

Auto supplier to set up shop in South Carolina
Fuyao North America is investing $16 million in a facility in Fountain Inn, S.C. The company, which makes automotive glass, will hire 70 in the deal.

GM unveils new Cadillac SUV being built in Tennessee
General Motors, which recently announced the closure of five North American factories, unveiled the 2020 Cadillac XTC, which will be assembled at its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. GM invested $300 million in its Tennessee facility to create a line for the XTC and has invested more than $2 billion in the plant since 2010. The Spring Hill facility is GM’s largest, encompassing 7.1 million square feet.

Volkswagen to assemble electric vehicles at its Tennessee plant
German automaker Volkswagen has chosen its Chattanooga plant for the company’s first electric vehicle facility in North America. VW will invest $800 million to retrofit the plant for electric vehicle production. The first EVs are expected to roll out of the plant in 2022. About 1,000 jobs are being generated in the expansion.

Exports of U.S.-made German vehicles drops significantly
There are four German automotive plants in the U.S., and they are all located in the South. Mercedes-Benz operates plants in Alabama and South Carolina, BMW’s largest plant worldwide is in South Carolina, and Volkswagen operates a large plant in Tennessee. The German automakers count on exports to China and Europe. Last year, German automakers produced 750,000 vehicles in the Southern Auto Corridor, of which 56 percent were exported to Europe and China. However, as a result of tariffs, exports to China fell by 37 percent in 2018, dropping from 150,000 vehicles to 95,000.

Toyota plant in Texas flying high with Tacoma sales
Toyota saw U.S. sales of its San Antonio-made Tacoma pickup truck increase 24 percent from 2017 to 2018. By comparison, sales of the Tundra model, which is also built at the Texas plant, increased only 1.7 percent year-over-year. The Tundra is a larger model than the Tacoma.

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Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle