April 2019

Six million dollar investment expands automotive in Enterprise, Ala.
A $6 million investment in the HSAA/HSAU factories in Enterprise will bring over 160 jobs to the Wiregrass area. The HSAU factory serves as a tier one supplier of air conditioning hoses for Chrysler vehicles. The company’s senior manager Garry Jordan said the investment will now allow these parts to be made for Hyundai, Kia and General Motors vehicles. “This is gonna put us on the map because we are gonna do Denso, which is a global parts supplier,“ Jordan said.

Massive Georgia battery factory breaks ground
Korea-based SK Group broke ground recently on its sprawling $1.7 billion factory to supply batteries for electric vehicles. The deal is expected to bring 2,000 jobs to Jackson County, northeast of Atlanta, making it the largest economic development deal in Georgia since Kia Motors opened in West Point a decade ago. The company will initially provide batteries for Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga.

Toyota plant adds 450 jobs in North Alabama
Over 450 new jobs are coming to the Toyota plant in Huntsville. The company just announced two new engine lines for the Huntsville Engine Manufacturing Plant. The added jobs are the largest hiring event in the plant’s history. Toyota and Mazda also are building an auto manufacturing plant just outside Huntsville. That facility in Limestone County is expected to employ up to 4,000 people.

Toyota expanding West Virginia facility with 123 jobs
Toyota Motor Manufacturing facility in Putnam County, W.Va., plans to double its hybrid transaxle capacity with a $111 million investment in its West Virginia plant, which includes a building expansion and the addition of the 123 jobs.

Hyundai supplier expanding in Alabama
A Korean company that supplies Hyundai and Kia plants in Alabama and Georgia is planning a multi-million-dollar expansion in Conecuh County, Ala. Guyoung Tech USA is expanding its production line and building a new welding facility in the former Gerber Distribution building in Evergreen. The company plans to hire at least 45 employees over the first three years and reach 90 to 100 employees in five years.

Moody’s cuts automotive industry from stable to negative
Credit rating company Moody’s has cut its outlook for the automotive industry from stable to negative. Moody’s based its outlook on slowing economic growth, potential political issues, such as tariffs, and a better-than-expected end to 2018 in vehicle sales. Moody’s expects global auto sales to grow by just 0.5 percent this year, down from its previous forecast of 1.2 percent growth.

Toyota to invest $749 million and add hundreds of jobs in the South
In the winter quarter, Japanese automaker Toyota said it will invest $749 million in five Southern states and add 600 jobs. The company will increase engine capacity in Alabama, transaxle production in West Virginia, add capacity at its assembly plant in Kentucky, and raise output of aluminum castings in Missouri and Tennessee. Toyota is also building a 4,000-employee plant with Mazda in Huntsville, Ala.

Mercedes-Benz to assemble ultraluxe Maybach SUV at Alabama plant
Mercedes announced in the winter quarter that it will expand its plant in Vance, Ala., to build a luxury SUV under the Maybach brand. At $200,000, the vehicle will be the most expensive passenger car built in the U.S. The company is also in the early stages of a $1 billion upgrade to ready the facility to build its first electric vehicles.

Korean brake manufacturer to open new Georgia facility
Sangsin Technology America, a manufacturer of brakes used by Hyundai and Kia, is opening a new plant in McDonough, Ga. The $20 million project will create 200 jobs.

Ford expanding Louisville Truck Plant
Ford will add capacity of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator at its truck plant in Louisville, Ky. Ford will move 550 workers from its Louisville SUV plant to the truck plant in the deal.

Israeli auto parts supplier expanding in Auburn, Ala.
Arkal Automotive has invested $2.5 million and is adding 25 jobs to expand its Auburn facility. The company supplies plastic parts to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Audi.

Korean auto supplier setting up shop in Alabama
A Korean supplier to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama plans to open its first U.S. facility in Alabama’s Lee County. Yongsan Automotive USA is investing more than $5.5 million in a manufacturing facility in Opelika. The interior parts manufacturer will create 150 jobs in the deal.

Super ATV to locate in Louisiana
SuperATV will locate a manufacturing and distribution facility in Shreveport, La. The company manufactures aftermarket parts for a variety of all-terrain vehicles. The $4.35 million deal will  create 75 jobs.

Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $238 million in its Georgetown, Ky., plant
Toyota is expanding its Kentucky assembly plant and adding the production of the Lexus 300h Hybrid and the RAV4 Hybrid. Both vehicles feature combined gasoline and electric engine power. The project calls for an investment of $238 million. The expansion will not add jobs to the 8,000-employee plant.

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March 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.

If President Trump imposes tariffs on cars and car parts from Asia and Europe, it won’t be pretty
By Michael Randle

President Trump and, I suppose, some in his administration, such as Vice President Mike Pence, have threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and auto parts. This would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs in the U.S. The global economy is not in the best shape currently, with several industrialized nations in a recession now.

What is the effect of these tariffs? Less is sold and what is sold costs more. They would also lead to plant closures and relocations to Mexico. The automotive industry is in its worst shape since 2012 as we’ve seen GM announce it is closing several North American plants.

Few understand the width and the depth of the auto industry in the South and in the U.S. It is by far the largest industry in the South (go to SouthernAutoCorridor.com) and has been for more than 25 years. In those 25 years, the Southern Auto Corridor has captured more than 85 percent of all new assembly plants announced in the U.S.

The automotive sector has led all other sectors in project activity meeting or exceeding 200 jobs in 23 of those 25 years in the 15-state region. Yet, last year, it did not, showing its worst performance in project activity since 2011 in the South. Fact is, Japanese automakers employ over 1.5 million people in the U.S., and two German automakers — BMW in South Carolina and Mercedes-Benz in Alabama — have fundamentally changed those state economies. Automotive is, without question, the most important industry in the South.

If the prospective tariffs are implemented, the supply chain (which has been 25 years in the making) to automakers in the South and the thousands of part makers that supply them, would take years to recreate. Inexpensive parts from foreign sources are an integral part of the manufacturing process. In short, if the tariffs are implemented, the result would not be pretty for automakers in the South.

Several of the recessions over the decades in the U.S. were caused by the collapse of the automotive industry or the housing industry, and both of those industries have also been responsible for lifting an economy out of a recession. I am very sure that the automotive industry led this country out of the recession in 2010 to 2017. Now automotive is slowing, and it is facing a death march with these tariffs. If he tariffs on foreign parts and vehicles are implemented, the U.S. will be in a recession within a year.

Alabama exports down for 2018
While Alabama exports topped $21 billion for the second consecutive year in 2018, exports of Alabama-made vehicles were down 9 percent from 2017. The state did see higher exports in chemicals, paper products and aerospace parts. Alabama exports to China dropped 14.8 percent. Germany was down 14 percent and Mexico was down 12 percent.

New report shows Volkswagen supports thousands of jobs in Tennessee
A report by Ernst & Young showed that Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga supports 16,400 jobs in Tennessee. The report also showed that $73.8 million in state and local taxes were generated by the VW plant and its suppliers in the state in 2017.

Kia begins export of new Georgia-built SUV
Georgia Port officials and executives with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) celebrated in February the first exports of the new eight-person SUV called the Telluride. The Telluride is a new model being built at Kia’s plant in West Point, Ga. The SUVs were being shipped from the Port of Brunswick to ports around the Arabian Peninsula.

Volvo begins exports of model made in South Carolina
Sweden-based, Chinese-owned Volvo has begun exports of its S60 model sedan made near Charleston in Ridgeville, S.C. The automaker expects to build 50,000 S60s at its plant this year with plans to export about half through the Port of Charleston to 93 countries. The South Carolina-made vehicle will not be exported to China amid trade battles between the U.S. and China.

Expansion work nearly completed at Montgomery, Ala., Hyundai plant
Work is well underway for Hyundai’s engine head machining plant along with other improvements at Hyundai’s massive auto assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala. Hyundai is investing $388 million on the expansion. The engine plant will be able to support 700,000 engines per year for Sonata and Santa Fe models that are built in Montgomery and at the Kia plant in West Point, Ga. The new facility will be operational in May.

Nokian to begin hiring at Tennessee tire plant
Finnish tire maker Nokian, which is on target to complete construction of its $360 million plant later this year, said it plans to hire up to 50 production employees during the first quarter of 2019.

Auto supplier announces $11.4 million Middle Tennessee investment
Togo North America will invest $11.4 million to establish a production facility in Robertson County, where it plans to create 58 jobs over the next five years. The Japan-based company makes automotive parts ranging from hose clamps to various springs.

QM Group expanding in Orangeburg County, S.C.
Quality Model (or QM) is expanding its plastic injection molding operations in Orangeburg, where it makes products for the automotive industry among others. The move will create 37 new jobs and a $9.5 million investment.

PPG invests $10 million in Greenville, S.C.
PPG will invest $10 million in a new 82,000-square-foot facility and class A paint line at its coatings services facility in Greenville. The expansion is designed to accommodate increased demand for class A coatings application and value-added services for the automotive and large truck markets.

German firm building headquarters in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
A German firm is opening its new North American headquarters in Alabama. SWJ Technology, which provides engineering services to Mercedes-Benz and its suppliers, will invest $1.5 million to build a new 5,000-square-foot facility in the Alberta community of Tuscaloosa that was devastated by a tornado in April 2011. The firm was awarded $200,000 through a federal grant program designed to bolster areas that have yet to recover from the tornado. According to SWJ President Wolfgang Kneer, the grant was a major factor in selecting Tuscaloosa over Chattanooga and Greenville as the central hub of its U.S. and Mexican operations.

VP Racing Fuels opens operations center in Huntingdon, Tenn.
VP Racing Fuels, a race fuel manufacturer and distributor, will invest $4.6 million to locate a new operations complex in Huntingdon. The project is expected to create 40 jobs in Carroll County.

Arconic investing $110 million at its Tennessee facilities
Arconic is investing $100 million to expand its facility in Alcoa, Tenn., in a project that will bring 70 new jobs to the area. Arconic plans to get out of the aluminum can sheet business and ramp up industrial and automotive aluminum products.

Mercedes-Benz Vans hiring for third shift in South Carolina
Mercedes-Benz Vans has begun hiring for a third shift, with a goal of adding 200 to bring its headcount to 1,300 workers by 2020 to build the new Sprinter vans. The German automaker invested $500 million in 2015 to expand its existing reassembly site in Ladson to a full-scale manufacturing operation.

Muncie Power Products relocates in Tulsa, Okla.
Muncie Power Products is currently located in Tulsa, but its growing operation has led to the decision to build a new facility and expand the company in North Tulsa’s Peoria-Mohawk Business Park – a $50 million investment. Muncie makes power take-offs and fluid power components for the work truck industry.

German software company plans first U.S. office in Greenville, S.C.
Valantic, a Germany-based software developer for the automotive industry, plans to locate new operations in Greenville County.

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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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January 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.

Southern Auto Corridor only U.S. region to gain auto jobs
Since the first quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of 2018, the 15-state American South was the only region to gain jobs tied to the automotive industry. Michigan has lost the most jobs of any state since 2001, with a net loss of 125,000 jobs, according to an Axios analysis of federal jobs data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a net gain of over 25,000, Alabama has gained the most jobs of any other state, followed by South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas. Overall, the South has gained 17 percent of its automotive jobs since 2001.

Regional job growth in auto industries 2001-2018

South+17%
West-21%
Midwest-29%
Northeast-47%

Source: Axios and the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Manufacturing posts best job-gain year since 1997
The nation’s manufacturing sector posted a net job gain of 284,000 in calendar year 2018, the best year since 1997. Manufacturing added 207,000 jobs in 2017. The gains are being made because the U.S. is much more competitive for manufacturers than at any time in decades, much of that stemming from energy savings from the natural gas fracking frenzy. Most of the jobs created in manufacturing in 2018 came from the metals and electronics products industry sectors.

Auto supplier sets up shop in Berkeley County, S.C.
VTL Precision, a manufacturer of engine and transmission parts for the automotive industry, is investing $8 million in a new plant in Berkeley County, S.C., and is projected to create 10 new jobs.

Manufacturer with Turkish ties plans Louisiana factory
Advanced Sinter Metal Technologies (known as ASMT) will bring 15 jobs at first, but could eventually bring 43, to St. Tammany Parish. The company manufactures components for electronic equipment for the automotive and other industries using a process called sintering, in which small metal particles are formed into shapes using intense heat.

Marangoni Tread North America announces Tennessee expansion
Marangoni Tread North America, a retread products supplier, announced it had begun expanding its tread manufacturing plant in Madison, Tenn. The company did not provide specific details about the expansion, but did say they would be expanding their workforce at the plant by 10 percent.

DENSO opens new plant in Maryville, Tenn., adding 1,000 jobs
DENSO, a global manufacturer of automotive components, celebrated the grand opening of a new production facility in Tennessee. The plant will produce advanced systems to help automakers transition to electric and autonomous vehicles, and is expected to support 1,000 new manufacturing jobs when fully operational.

Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions expands Bowling Green plant
Less than two years after opening its plant, Japan-based automotive parts manufacturer Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions will expand with a $42 million investment in Bowling Green, Ky. The project will add 90 employees, bringing its total planned employment to 220, and overall investment to $95 million in the state. The plant manufactures aluminum bumper and sub-frame materials.

Bridgestone plans Tennessee plant expansion
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations plans to expand its Warren County, Tenn., production plant as part of a three-year, $40 million project. A business unit of Bridgestone Americas Inc., BATO will add another 32,000 square feet to the commercial truck and bus radial tire manufacturing facility.

HIROTEC to invest $40 million in Tennessee
Automotive supplier HIROTEC America announced that it will construct a new manufacturing facility in Fayetteville. The member of Japan-based HIROTEC Group will invest around $40 million and create more than 100 jobs in Lincoln County over the next three years. The plant will be operational in the third quarter of 2020.

Automotive speaker maker to expand in El Paso
Dozens of new jobs will soon come to El Paso, Texas as a global automotive speaker manufacturer expands its local operations. Foster Electric is investing $4.2 million in the community, retaining 32 employees and creating an additional 40 full-time jobs.

Mercedes-Benz spending $23 billion on battery cells
As the automaker continues to build an electric battery plant in Bibb County near its Vance factory, Daimler announced it is spending $23 billion on battery cells. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said the company’s “electric offensive continues to gain momentum.” The battery cell purchase means the company is “systematically pushing forward with the transformation into the electric future of our company.”

Gaston County, N.C., lands 500-job call center
Charlotte-based Sonic Automotive will open a customer contact center in Gaston County, creating 500 jobs and making it the county’s largest office project. Sonic Automotive, one of the largest automotive retailers in the United States, will make an $11.2 million investment in Lowell to establish the center.

Indian manufacturer expanding in Dorchester County, S.C.
Indian manufacturer and supplier Sundaram-Clayton Limited has announced it’s investing $40 million into its facility in the Ridgeville area. The expansion is expected to generate 100 new positions at the facility, which provides aluminium and magnesium castings for the automotive industry.

Metal fabricator building plant in Berkeley County, S.C., creating 600 jobs
A Michigan-based manufacturer of metal fabrications plans to create at least 600 jobs by setting up operations in Berkeley County. W International recently made the $35.2 million announcement, previously known as “Project Whiskey.” At its new facility — an existing 451,000-square-foot plant — the company will support U.S. defense shipbuilding, as well as the aerospace, automotive and commercial business industries.

Check-Mate Industries creating 230 jobs in Georgia
A tool and die, metal stamping and assemblies manufacturer is moving its headquarters from New York state to Thomasville, investing more than $16 million and creating 230 jobs. Check-Mate Industries will operate in the former Caterpillar plant to serve customers in a range of industries from aircraft and automotive to medical, cosmetic and art and communications.

Advanced Plating creating 200 new jobs in Tennessee
Advanced Plating will expand its Middle Tennessee operations by locating a new facility in Portland. The electroplating manufacturer will create 200 jobs and invest approximately $4 million in Sumner County. The company provides electroplating services for the automotive, architectural fixtures and musical instrument industries.

Czech auto supplier locating in Spartanburg, S.C.
A Czech producer of metal parts for the automotive industry is locating its new operations in Spartanburg County. KV Final is investing $2.5 million and will create 50 new jobs.

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Top Automotive Deals in the South – Fall2018

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Fall 2018 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. SK Innovation2,000$1,670NJackson Co., Ga.Lithium-ion Batteries
2. Advance Auto Parts600N/ARRaleigh, N.C.Headquarters
3. Sonic Automotive500$11NGaston Co., N.C.Auto Parts
4. DRAXLMAIER460$42EDuncan, S.C.Auto Parts
5. Metalsa250N/AEElizabethtown, Ky.Auto Parts
6. Eissmann Group200$14ESt. Clair Co., Ala.Auto Parts
7. Toyo Tire150$138EBartow Co., Ga.Tires
8. Fuel Total Systems150$60NMaury Co., Tenn.Auto Parts
9. SEWON America100$160ELaGrange, Ga.Auto Parts
10. Sundaram-Clayton100$40ERidgeville, S.C.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

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Top Automotive Deals in the South – Summer 2018

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Summer 2018 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Lear500N/AETuscaloosa, Ala.Auto Parts
2. Oshkosh300N/ANJefferson City, Tenn.Truck Assembly
3. Webasto183$15ELexington, Ky.Auto Parts
4. Faurecia143$30NMaury County, Tenn.Auto Parts
5. Lohr140N/ANLincoln, Ala.Car Carriers
6. Nisshinbo100$72ECovington, Ga.Auto Parts
7. JTEKT100$5EGreenville, S.C.Headquarters
8. Michelin 100N/AEStarr, S.C.Tires
9. Unipres Alabama70$40ESt. Clair Co., Ala.Auto Parts
10. U.S. Tsubaki70$35EPortland, Tenn.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

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