June 2019

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama celebrates grand opening of new cylinder head machining plant in Montgomery
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and other elected officials joined Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA), in a celebration of the grand opening of HMMA’s cylinder head machining plant. The new plant is the third facility at HMMA to support production of more than 650,000 engines per year. The plant represents a $388 million total investment to manufacturing engine cylinder heads and also to enhance existing operations to support the production of new Sonata and Elantra sedan models. This investment also created 50 new jobs.

Dajcor Aluminum to create 265 full-time jobs in Eastern Kentucky
Gov. Matt Bevin announced in the spring quarter that Dajcor Aluminum, a Canadian manufacturer of aluminum products, plans to create up to 265 full-time jobs as it invests nearly $19.6 million to locate its first U.S. operation near Hazard, Ky.

Japan-Based DaikyoNishikawa plans Huntsville, Ala., assembly plant
Japan-based DaikyoNishikawa U.S. plans to invest $110 million to open an auto parts manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Ala. The project will serve the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. assembly plant now under construction. The project will create 380 jobs to produce plastic automotive parts.

Mercedes may move sedan production back to Germany to focus on more SUVs at Alabama plant
For over 20 years, Germany-based Mercedes-Benz has made SUVs exclusively at its sprawling assembly plant in Vance, Ala. In 2014, the automaker experimented with adding the C-Class sedan model to its Alabama plant, even closing a plant in Germany to do so. Now Mercedes is considering shifting sedan production back to Germany or to another plant so it can focus on producing more SUVs and light trucks, which have become ever-more popular in the U.S. than sedans. In fact, 60 percent of Mercedes’ U.S. sales — built in the U.S. or abroad — are SUVs and crossovers. Sources have maintained that Mercedes will move C-Class sedan production back to Germany by fall 2020. The 6-million-square-foot plant in Vance, Ala., is working at 93 percent capacity and Mercedes expects that to improve once all vehicles made at the facility are SUVs and crossovers. In addition to Alabama, the C-Class model is made in Germany, South Africa and China.

Cree investing up to $1 billion in North Carolina
Cree will increase its capacity at its silicon carbine fabrication facility in Durham, N.C. When the new addition to its facility is up and running in 2024, Cree will substantially increase its silicon carbide materials and wafer capacity used in the automotive, communications and industrial markets.

Canadian auto supplier sets up shop in Tennessee
Hematite will invest $11.5 million to locate a production facility in Fayetteville, Tenn. The company manufactures precision parts from recycled materials that primarily deal with acoustics in vehicles. The project will create 70 jobs.

Auto supplier lands in Augusta, Ga.
Spain-based Acoustics and Insulation Techniques, a manufacturer of audio insulation for the automotive and construction industries, will create 45 jobs and invest $12 million in its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Augusta, Ga. The company supplies its products to BMW, Mercedes and Volvo, among other automakers.

Volvo expects to hire 2,500 more workers in South Carolina within a few years
Volvo Cars expects to hire 2,500 more employees to build the next generation XC90 SUV in 2022. Hiring will begin in 2020. The plant, which assembles the S60 sedan, is only making about 50,000 vehicles in its first year. That figure has dropped dramatically considering about half of the S60s made in the first and second years were to be exported to China. The trade tariffs have snuffed that plan out for now. By 2022, the plant is expected to house about 4,000 workers and an annual unit output of about 150,000 vehicles.

German auto parts supplier relocating plant from California to Texas
Germany-based Wagner Tuning will locate a parts plant in Kilgore, Texas, from California. The company is investing over $6 million in the facility that will house 30 workers.

Auto supplier to expand Alabama facility
In the spring, Sejin America announced plans to spend $15 million on new machines and add 36 jobs to the payroll at its Dadeville facility. The company makes small automobile components for manufacturers such as Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes.

Ford establishing new call center in Houston
Michigan-based automaker Ford is opening a new call center in Houston, and it’s looking to fill more than 500 positions. The center will mainly focus on helping people who own Ford trucks.

GM to hire 400 workers to build C8 Corvette in Kentucky
General Motors says it will add more than 400 hourly jobs to fill a second shift at its Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky to build the long-awaited mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8, which will launch as a 2020 model. The hiring plans mean total employment at the plant will rise to more than 1,300. Since 2011, GM said it has invested more than $900 million in the plant, which has built the Corvette since it opened in 1981.

Advanced Design Solutions creating 180 jobs in Tennessee
Advanced Design Solutions will invest $10 million and create nearly 180 jobs in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. The auto supplier will locate its operations in part of the former Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company facility.

Texas anxiously awaits Toyota’s June 30 decision
Toyota will decide by June 30 whether it will plow $392 million into upgrades at its San Antonio truck plant or at one of its other manufacturing facilities in North America. Local officials, who have put together incentive packages to try to win over Toyota, are watching anxiously.

Advanced Design Solutions creating 180 jobs in Tennessee
Advanced Design Solutions will invest $10 million and create nearly 180 jobs in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. The auto supplier will renovate and locate its operations in part of the former Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company facility.

Auto supplier expanding in Lincoln County, N.C.
Tenowo, a nonwoven textiles company that makes products for automakers, is expanding again in the Charlotte region. The company will make a $4.5 million investment in new equipment and perhaps expand its huge facility there.

Nucor upgrading steel plant in South Carolina
Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp. is expanding the product capacity of its bar mill in Darlington, S.C., to allow production of higher-grade steel for the automotive market and other specialty uses. Nucor is not disclosing the costs of the project, and the project will not mean any additional employment at the site, which now provides about 450 jobs.

Hitachi Automotive makes $100 million expansion in Monroe, Ga.
Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, a global supplier of automotive parts, has announced a massive, multi-year expansion of its manufacturing plant in Monroe, approximately 45 miles east of Atlanta. Hitachi will invest anywhere from $100 million to $330 million in expanding its existing facility. The project is expected to bring an additional 100 jobs to Walton County.

E-N-G Mobile Systems chooses Fayetteville, N.C.
E-N-G Mobile Systems, a California-based company, will invest $2.3 million to build a manufacturing facility and create 60 jobs in Cumberland County. E-N-G builds specialized vehicles, including those for electronic news gathering and mobile labs.

Auto parts manufacturer opens in Dorchester County, S.C.
A new auto parts manufacturer recently opened its doors in Dorchester County. India-based Sundaram-Clayton’s first plant in the U.S., will make aluminum die-cast parts for several different global auto brands. The facility is expected to generate 230 new jobs.

May 2019 News

Bendix gains approval for possible expansion in Kentucky

Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake could be expanding its plant in Bowling Green’s South Industrial Park again. Bendix is considering a total investment of $65 million in its facility, which produces parts used in air brake systems for commercial vehicles.

Michelin opens enormous distribution center in South Carolina

Michelin North America has opened its largest distribution center in the world in Greenville, S.C. At a cost of $270 million, it spans 45 football fields with the capacity to move four million tires a year and employ 350. The company began building the center in November 2016, and as of April 2019, it is fully operational.

GM Bowling Green Corvette plant to add 400 jobs

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra announced the company’s plans to add a second shift and more than 400 new employees at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in preparation to build the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette later this year. 

McNeilus Steel locates in Morristown, Tenn.

McNeilus Steel will establish a new manufacturing facility in Morristown, creating 72 jobs over the next five years. The company will invest $18.8 million to build a 100,000-square-foot facility to fabricate metal parts for OEMs in the Southeast.

Horton Holding creating 125 jobs in South Carolina

Horton Holding, a manufacturer of engine-cooling solutions for trucks and buses, will locate new operations in Oconee County, creating 125 new jobs. The company’s new, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is expected to come online in early 2020.

Continental Tire plant expanding again in South Carolina

Continental Tire recently broke ground on a new expansion at its growing Sumter facility. The expansion, which will provide capabilities to produce the company’s ContiSeal puncture-sealing and ContiSilent noise-absorbing passenger tire lines, comes during the ramp-up of the second of two major growth phases at the Sumter facility. The new business unit, which isn’t directly related to either phase, will add about another 50 jobs by 2020. Investment figures weren’t disclosed.

Russia-based aluminum producer partners in Kentucky mill

RUSAL, a Russia-based global aluminum producer, and Braidy Industries, a U.S.-based holding company, plans to establish a joint project in Ashland, Ky. The $200 million facility will produce flat rolled aluminum products for the U.S. automotive industry. The deal requires approval from the boards of both companies.

Italian electronics firm expands in Gwinnett County, Ga.

Elemaster U.S. has opened an expanded electronic equipment design center and manufacturing plant in Duluth, a $3 million investment that could spur a doubling of the company’s local workforce. The Milan, Italy-based maker of printed circuit boards for rail, automotive, avionics, medical and other applications now employs 40 at the new site, with the goal of hiring 20 more workers by the end of this year and perhaps 50 more by the close of 2020.

New auto supplier in Athens, Ala., will hire 400

Toyota Boshoku America will invest over $50 million to open a manufacturing facility in Limestone County, Ala. The facility will produce seat systems for vehicles built at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville. The new Athens plant is expected to create around 400 jobs.

Piston Automotive expands Kentucky operations

Auto components supplier Piston Automotive will invest $1.5 million for an expansion of its operation in Louisville. The company plans to create 50 full-time jobs.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


December 2018

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.

Korean battery maker to locate plant in Georgia that will house 2,000
SK Innovation, a lithium-ion batteries manufacturer is investing $1.67 billion in a new project in Jackson County, Ga. The batteries are used in hybrid electric vehicles. The project will create 2,000 jobs.

BMW starts production of X7 at South Carolina plant
German automaker BMW is now building the X7 Sports Activity Vehicle. It is being assembled on the same line as the X5 and X6 models. The groundwork for the new model came when BMW announced in 2014 it would invest $1 billion at its plant in Spartanburg County. The company built a new 1.2 million-square-foot body shop that houses over 2,000 new robots. BMW produces about 1,400 vehicles a day at the plant with 70 percent of them exported to over 140 global markets.

Volvo is reducing it employment count at new South Carolina plant because of tariffs
Volvo global CEO Hakan Samuelsson told USA Today in late November that the company is reducing its hiring at its new $1.1 billion assembly plant in Berkeley County, S.C., due to President Trump’s trade war with China. Volvo picked South Carolina in 2015 for its first U.S. plant, and the facility opened for full production of the S60 sedan in the summer. In retaliation for tariffs from Trump, China hiked U.S. vehicle import tariffs from 25 to 40 percent. Volvo planned to export a large number of South Carolina-made Volvos to China. The company also planned to hire 1,500 by the end of this year and up to 4,000 when the Chinese-owned Swedish brand started another line for a SUV. The CEO did not say how many jobs will be reduced at the plant.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing breaks ground on North Alabama plant
On November 16, 2018, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA broke ground on its $1.6 billion, 4,000-employee plant in Huntsville, Ala., and Limestone County. Fittingly, an automotive assembly line robot turned the first shovel of dirt. The plant will feature two lines, with one assembling the Toyota Corolla model and another building a new Mazda crossover SUV.

BMW ponders a new engine plant in North America
BMW is considering building a second plant in the U.S. The German automaker is studying whether to build an engine plant to support its largest plant worldwide, which is located in Spartanburg County, S.C. The company is also about to open a plant in Mexico. Currently, BMW imports its engines from Europe to its U.S. plant. BMW officials have been discussing the new plant for several years.

Hyundai considers significant upgrade of its plant in Montgomery, Ala.
Hyundai CEO Wonhee Lee told Automotive News in the fall quarter that the Korean automaker may soon make a significant investment in its plant in Montgomery, Ala. The company is considering adding two more lines to the plant, one for an SUV and one for a new pickup truck. Hyundai assembles two sedans and one SUV at the facility.

Ford eliminates shift in Louisville; those 500 workers will move to truck plant
Ford Motor Co. is eliminating the “C shift” (nights and weekends) at its Louisville Assembly Plant where it assembles the Escape model. The company will move 500 workers from the Louisville Assembly Plant to the Kentucky Truck Plant, which is also located in Louisville. The truck plant makes the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models, as well as the F-Series Super Duty pickups.

Bosch to spend $45 million on South Carolina operations
Auto parts supplier Bosch is investing $45 million in its Anderson County, S.C., operations. No new jobs will be created at the plant where 1,200 are currently housed.

Toyo Tire expands Georgia plant
Japan-based Toyo Tire is investing $138 million in its tire plant in Bartow County, Ga. The company will also add 150 jobs to increase workers housed at the plant to 2,100. The expansion will add capacity to produce over 13 million passenger car tires per year.

India-based auto supplier expanding in South Carolina
Sundaram-Clayton Limited, a manufacturer of aluminum casting products for Mercedes-Benz Vans near Charleston, S.C., is expanding it campus in Ridgeville, S.C. The company will invest $40 million and hire 100 in the deal.

Advance Auto Parts relocating HQ to Raleigh
Advance Auto Parts announced in November it is relocating its headquarters from Roanoke, Va., to Raleigh, N.C. The company, which cited Raleigh’s tech-savvy workforce, is expected to hire 600 in the move.

Exports of South Carolina-made BMWs keeps dropping
Exports of BMWs made in Spartanburg County, S.C., continue to drop as tariffs put a bite into the German automaker. As a result, BMW officials plan to move more production of the company’s SUVs to its plant in China. It already makes the X3 there and might move production of the X5 model to its China plant. In October, BMW sent 13,702 vehicles to foreign markets through the Port of Charleston. That’s a 16 percent drop from the same month a year ago and the fourth consecutive monthly decline of exported vehicles. BMW officials have publicly stated that the U.S.-China trade war will cost the company $344 million this year.

Louisiana lands big chemical plant
Wanhua Chemical will invest $1.25 billion in a chemical manufacturing facility in St. James Parish, La. The plant will produce methylene diphenyl doisocyanate that is used to produce elastomers and foams that are then used in a variety of applications, including automotive parts and appliances. The deal will create 170 new jobs.

Swedish auto supplier picks South Carolina for first U.S. plant
Gnotec Group is investing $5.9 million to locate a plant in Orangeburg County, S.C. The deal will create 78 jobs specializing in the engineering and manufacturing of metal components for automotive and commercial vehicles’ body-in-white and chassis structures.

New Flyer opens $25 million plant expansion in Anniston, Ala.
New Flyer of America, North America’s largest transit bus manufacturer, has cut the ribbon on a $25 million renovation and expansion of its Anniston factory. It was the culmination of $50 million in improvements to the facility over the past two years, which now employs 750. New Flyer manufactures battery-electric transit buses.

Smyrna’s Nissan plant approved for $158 million in upgrades
Nissan’s Smyrna factory will continue to hire for a workforce of 8,400 and to make improvements to the plant. The automaker obtained authorization in November from the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board for two bonds totaling $158.1 million. The money will be used for upgrades including new machinery and equipment.

Bridgestone announces $40 million Tennessee expansion
On November 16, tire manufacturer Bridgestone announced a $40 million expansion of its Tennessee truck and bus tire facility. Bridgestone plans to add 32,000 square feet of manufacturing space and invest in new equipment at the plant in Morrison, Tenn., which would increase production capacity to 9,400 tires per day by the end of 2020.

Truform Manufacturing expands Dickson, Tenn., operations
Truform Manufacturing, an automotive and appliance supplier, will invest approximately $14 million to expand its operations in Dickson. The company plans to create nearly 90 jobs over the next five years.

Hwashin Investing $26 million in Alabama expansion
Auto supplier Hwashin America Corp. will expand its Greenville, Ala., manufacturing operation with a $26 million investment in new equipment and 50 new jobs. The company, which produces body components for Hyundai’s Alabama auto assembly plant, has been in expansion mode since arriving in Butler County in 2003.

South Korean auto supplier planning $5 million expansion in Alabama
A South Korean auto supplier operating in Tallapoosa County, Ala., is planning a $5 million expansion project at its manufacturing facility in Alexander City. C&J will expand a former Russell Corp. garment facility by 75,000 square feet. The company supplies automakers such as Hyundai, Nissan, Kia, Toyota and Honda with plastic molding. The investment is expected to add another 100 jobs to the facility’s staff of 300.

Fuel Total Systems chooses Mount Pleasant, Tenn., for manufacturing plant
Fuel Total Systems (FTS), a manufacturer of automotive plastic fuel tank systems, will locate its new manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant. The manufacturer will create 150 new jobs and invest approximately $60.9 million in Maury County. FTS is based in Japan and also has operations in Kentucky.


November 2018

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

Job generation under Obama and Trump essentially the same. But that is about to change.
So far in President Trump’s first term, the average monthly job gains have been about 208,000. In President Obama’s last five years in office, job gains averaged 207,000 per month. Yet, in Obama’s first few years in office, there was a large unemployed labor pool. Not so today with an unemployment rate in October of 3.7 percent. There is no question that monthly job growth will slow in the next two years. It has to, and it has nothing to do with politics or who is president. It has to do with demographics. With millions of Baby Boomers aging out, and only about 70,000 workers turning working age (16) each year over the last three years, the pool of workers is getting much smaller. It’s just math. It is impossible to create 200,000 jobs per month when only about a third of that total of available workers are turning 16. The only way to replace those aging out or to increase the workforce is to embrace immigration, and we all know that is not going to happen.

U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs are backfiring
According to a report by Business Forward, prices in the U.S. for hot and cold-rolled steel have risen by 13.5 percent and 8.9 percent respectively since President Trump announced plans for steel and aluminum tariffs in February. As a result, U.S. manufacturers that use the metals in their manufacturing processes are paying 15.8 percent more for steel. While the tariffs have created jobs for steelmakers in the U.S., manufacturers using steel are cutting jobs. According to Business Forward, companies that buy steel in the U.S. employ more than 46 times more workers than companies that produce steel. The Tax Foundation has estimated that the tariffs and higher metal costs will cause GDP to fall by $148 billion, and lost jobs could increase by over 450,000 for manufacturers that use steel in their processes.

Trade war costing Ford $1 billion
Few U.S. companies have been blindsided by President Trump’s trade war with China and other parts of the world more than Michigan-based Ford. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a November story published by Bloomberg, that Trump’s tariffs on metal imports will cost the automaker $1 billion in lost profit by the end of 2019. This, despite the fact that Ford was already buying most of its steel and aluminum from U.S. producers.

New Volvo plant in South Carolina caught in crosshairs of tariff war
Volvo Cars is pivoting its production plans just months after opening a new $1.1 billion assembly plant in Berkeley County, S.C. The Swedish automaker, which is owned by China-based Geely Holding Group, canceled plans to export roughly half the S60 sedans it assembles in South Carolina to China. Volvo will also stop U.S. imports of its popular XC60 SUV from its factory in China. It will also reduce exports of its S90 sedan built in China. The moves are being made as the automaker finds itself in a pickle regarding President Trump’s tariffs on automobiles. President Trump imposed tariffs of 27.5 percent on Chinese auto imports and in a tit-for-tat move, China’s President Xi Jinping slapped a 40 percent tariff on American-built autos. In 2022, Volvo will assemble its XC90 SUV at its South Carolina plant and will focus on the American market for the S60s it is making there for now.

Mass migration from California concerning to Texans
By Michael Randle
It’s not just companies like Toyota, which cited incredibly high housing costs when it announced in April 2014 that it was relocating its U.S. headquarters from California to Plano, Texas, it is also families moving to Texas and other places in the South looking for work and a cheaper lifestyle. In fact, in 2016 alone, 70,000 Californians relocated to Texas, according to data from the U.S. Census.

The average price of a home was over $725,000 where Toyota was operating its largest North American headquarters in Southern California. In Plano, the average home costs around $325,000. Toyota relocated about 3,000 people from California and added another 1,200 workers at its new headquarters in Plano, which has been operational since move-in day in May of 2017.

Hundreds of companies have moved their operations and headquarters from California to Texas and other parts of the South. Nissan announced it was relocating its headquarters from Southern California to Franklin, Tenn., a Nashville suburb, in 2005. Thousands of people work at Nissan headquarters near Nashville, as well as the Japanese automaker’s largest North American plant in nearby Smyrna, Tenn.

Why have Toyota and Nissan relocated their headquarters to the South? It’s the same reason so many companies have migrated to the South over the last seven decades: operational costs, and even more important for the employer, the cost of living for their employees. Simply put, the two automakers’ employees could not afford to live close to their company’s headquarters in the Los Angeles region. Now employees of Toyota and Nissan can purchase a home at their new locations and a vacation home for about the same money as their California homes.

However, there are some in Texas — the leading destination for California migrants as well as migrating companies — who are worried that the state will morph into the Golden State when it comes to rising housing costs, traffic and rising taxes. In fact, many in Texas believe the state is experiencing the same growth California saw in the ’50s, ’60s and ‘70s, and that the growth will price out the state in time. Others in Texas support the growth, pointing to the quality of life in California that technically beats the Lone Star State’s quality of life in just about every measure including education.

Trade war could relocate some BMW production from South Carolina to China
In 2017, BMW exported 81,186 vehicles made in Greer, S.C., to China with an export value of over $2 billion. Now that export is threatened by President Trump’s tariffs on cars imported from China and China’s tariffs on vehicles exported from the U.S. BMW, which is expected to lose $344 million in revenue as a result of the tariffs, is considering moving some production of its South Carolina-made SUVs to its plant in China. Because of Chinese tariffs that countered Trump’s tariffs, BMW is expected to raise the price of its South Carolina-made X models by as much as seven percent.

Auto, appliance supplier adding jobs in central Tennessee
Truform Manufacturing is investing $14 million to expand its plant in Dickson County, Tenn. The deal will create 90 new jobs.

Swedish-based auto supplier picks Orangeburg, S.C., for new plant
Gnotec Group is locating a new manufacturing plant in Orangeburg County. The company specializes in chassis structures, and the new Volvo plant is located nearby. The $5.9 million plant will house 78 workers.

Korean auto supplier expands in Greenville, Ala.
Auto supplier Hwashin America is expanding its Greenville plant with a $26 million investment. The company supplies body components for Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Ala. The project will create 50 jobs.

Raytheon breaks ground on new radar facility in Mississippi
Defense contractor Raytheon broke ground on its new radar production plant in Forest, Miss., in November. Raytheon is investing $100 million in the expansion that will create dozens of jobs.

Booz Allen expanding in Oklahoma
Booz Allen Hamilton is adding 240 jobs at its facilities in Oklahoma. The company will add software developers, data scientists and cybersecurity engineers at its locations in Oklahoma City and elsewhere in the state.

Auto parts maker bringing 150 jobs and $60.9 million to Middle Tennessee
Fuel Total Systems (FTS) officials recently announced plans for a new manufacturing facility in Maury County that will create 150 new jobs. FTS plans to build a 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Cherry Glen Industrial Park as part of a $60.9 million investment.

Pounds of Plastic chooses Owenton, Ky.
Canada-based Pounds of Plastic, a supplier to the automotive and general manufacturing industries, plans to invest more than $4.1 million and create 54 full-time jobs in Owenton.

Continental Tire is hiring in Mississippi
Continental Tire has begun hiring and training its first employees in advance of its $1.45 billion plant in Clinton making commercial truck, bus and transport vehicle tires by late 2019. The company is hiring about 30 shop-floor operators through the end of the year, with plans to hire a total of 2,500 people by 2028.

Eissmann Group Automotive expands Alabama plant
A Germany-based firm that specializes in car interiors, trim components, shifter modules and other parts, Eissmann Group Automotive has completed a $14.5 million expansion at its assembly plant in Pell City, Ala. The project is adding 200 workers to the company’s St. Clair County workforce.

Auto supplier to create 100 jobs in Troup County, Ga.
SEWON America, a supplier to the automotive industry, will create 100 jobs and invest $160 million in expanding its North American headquarters and manufacturing plant in LaGrange. New jobs will include positions in supervision, production and warehouse operations.

North Carolina approves incentives for tire maker’s $200 million project
Bridgestone could get up to another $30 million from taxpayers if it keeps 2,000 jobs and invests at least $150 million in improvements within a six-year period at its eastern North Carolina factory. A state panel approved grants of up to $3 million a year for 10 years to Bridgestone Americas, which is updating its Wilson tire plant.
Joint venture expands fiber production in Spartanburg, S.C.
Huvis Indorama Advanced Materials, a joint venture between Thialand’s Indorama Ventures and South Korea-based Huvis Corporation, will invest $48 million to launch new manufacturing operations at Auriga Polymers’ campus in Spartanburg County. The new operations will manufacture low melting fiber commonly used in automotive and industrial composites.

Enforge expands manufacturing complex in Albemarle, N.C.
Enforge, a manufacturer of steel-formed suspension and steering assemblies for automotive companies, will invest $4 million to expand its production plant 41 miles east of Charlotte. The company plans to create 44 new jobs.

Poorest county” in Mississippi gets 60 new jobs
Thanks to the expansion of a manufacturing plant in Holmes County, Miss., 60 new jobs will be provided to people in what is called the poorest county in the state. Hunter Engineering is spending $8 million to expand its facility to produce wheel alignment and balancing systems, brake service equipment and other auto repair equipment. The expansion also includes a 500-square-foot workforce training area to support continuous employee development.

Auto parts supplier to add 250 Kentucky jobs
Metalsa announced plans to expand its plant in Elizabethtown, Ky. Metalsa, based in Mexico, is a supplier to automotive manufacturers, and its Elizabethtown facility is one of the largest operations throughout the company.

Mercedes breaks ground on Alabama battery plant
At a groundbreaking ceremony, Mercedes-Benz officials formally marked the start of construction on a 2 million-square-foot plant in Bibb County, Ala., that will supply battery packs for the automaker’s Alabama-made electric vehicles. The battery plant is a key component in a $1 billion Mercedes expansion announced in September 2017. The plan calls for Mercedes to begin producing electric SUVs at its assembly complex in Vance, about seven miles away, at the beginning of the next decade.

Volkswagen could add 1,000 jobs in Tennessee
VW officials say they plan to add a third shift to the automaker’s Tennessee plant, a move that could add more than 1,000 workers. The new hires will help produce the five-seat Atlas SUV next year. Hiring is expected to start this year and continue in 2019.

Wheel Pros eyes York County, S.C.
Wheel Pros, a designer and distributor of aftermarket wheels, plans to establish new manufacturing and distribution operations in the former American Eagle Wheel plant in York County. The $13.9 million investment is expected to result in 275 new jobs.

Vintech Industries to open facility in Newnan, Ga.
Michigan-based Vintech Industries, which makes metal and plastic products including molding, seals and assemblies for auto manufacturers, has purchased a building in Newnan where it plans to begin production in the first quarter of 2019. The project is expected to create 30 jobs initially and eventually more than double that figure.

South Carolina manufacturer expanding with 115 new jobs
MAHLE Behr, a supplier of air conditioning and radiator assemblies, will be expanding its manufacturing operations in Charleston County. The company’s $36 million investment is projected to create 115 new jobs.

Construction is complete on 350-job project in Botetourt, Va.
Construction is complete on the ELDOR Automotive Plant, and the manufacturer is bringing hundreds of new jobs to the Botetourt area. The Italy-based company, which make pieces for ignition systems and other parts, is opening it’s first North American plant in the Roanoke Valley.

Real Truck chooses Ocala, Fla., for HQ
Real Truck, an online truck accessory retailer, will locate its global headquarters in Ocala. The company will undertake a capital investment of $2 million and create 77 jobs.

Auto supplier expands in Lee County, Miss.
Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi (APMM) is increasing production in Lee County, investing $100 million and creating 50 jobs. A Tier 1 automotive supplier located in Guntown, APMM produces stamped auto parts, body weld parts and plastic parts. The expansion accommodates increased production for the 2019 Toyota Corolla.


October 2018

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

If you are set to buy a new car, buy it now, say experts
New tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on auto parts from China will not only impact automaker profits and cut sales, the costs are going straight to your wallet. Trump’s tariffs on over 100 imported Chinese auto parts — from tires to brake pads to batteries — will increase the cost of vehicles made in the U.S. “It’s going to be felt by Americans and it’s going to be a big deal,” said Peter Nagle, senior analyst at IHS Markit.

Wheel manufacturer investing in South Carolina facility
Wheel Pros, a manufacturer of branded aftermarket wheels, is investing almost $14 million in a facility in York County, S.C. The project will create 275 new jobs.

Auto supplier expands in South Carolina
MAHLE Behr Charleston, a supplier of air conditioning and radiator assemblies for the automotive industry, is investing $36 million in its plant in Charleston County, S.C. The deal will create 115 new jobs.

Toyota builds first next-gen engine at Alabama plant
Toyota’s Huntsville, Ala., plant produced its first next-generation four-cylinder engine in September. The engine was made possible after a $106 million investment to prepare the facility for advanced production. The next-gen project replaced the entire four-cylinder engine line at the plant. The facility is the only one in the world where Toyota makes four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8s.

Auto parts supplier expands in Mississippi
Automotive supplier Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi is increasing production capacity at its plant in Lee County, Miss. The company is a Tier 1 supplier of stamped parts to Toyota’s assembly plant in nearby Blue Springs, Miss. The $100 million project will create 50 jobs.

Volvo at full production at new South Carolina assembly plant
Volvo is now at full production of its newly designed S60 sedan at its new plant in Berkeley County, S.C. The first S60 models will arrive at U.S. dealerships later this year. Global distribution will begin in the spring of 2019. There are about 2,000 employees at the plant, with 2,000 more slated to be hired when the Chinese-owned, Sweden-based automaker builds another line for XC90 SUV.

Hunter Engineering expands Mississippi operations
Automotive service equipment manufacturer Hunter Engineering will invest $8 million to expand operations in Durant, Miss. The company plans to create 60 jobs.

Mercedes supplier hiring 250 in Alabama
Lear, a supplier of seating and electrical systems to the Mercedes plant in Vance, is hiring 250 entry-level operators.

ZF plans $40 million, 60-job expansion in Gainesville, Ga.
German car parts maker ZF is investing more than $40 million to expand its plant in Gainesville. ZF will add three new assembly lines and 60 new jobs.

New Flyer cuts ribbon on $30 million facility in Bullitt County, Ky.
New Flyer of America in Shepherdsville recently unveiled its $30 million transit bus and motor coach parts manufacturing facility that will create up to 550 jobs.

Reich plans $10.9 million investment in Arden, N.C.
Reich, a precision vehicle parts manufacturer, plans to invest $10.9 million into its facility, adding 15 new jobs to its workforce in the process.

One hundred jobs, $72 million coming to Newton County, Ga.
Japan-based Nisshinbo Automotive Manufacturing (NAMI), a manufacturer of environmentally friendly brake pads, will create 100 jobs and invest $72 million in an expansion of its Covington facility. New jobs at the facility will include positions in production and administration.

Mercedes opens first Sprinter factory in the U.S.
In September, Mercedes opened its first Sprinter van production plant in the U.S. In addition to cutting the ribbon at the $500 million factory in North Charleston, S.C., the company announced an order for 20,000 of the vans from Amazon. The facility employs 900 workers.

Volvo Car University coming to South Carolina
Volvo Car USA plans to build Volvo Car University at its Berkeley County campus later this year. The university will focus on workforce training and leadership development for North America.

New jobs for South Carolina after $5.8 million automotive expansion
By 2020, JTEKT North America plans to fill at least 100 new positions as a part of its $5.8 million expansion on the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.


September 2018

September 2018

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

Nissan to invest $170 million to upgrade Tennessee and Mississippi plants
Nashville-based Nissan North America plans to invest $170 million at its two plants in the Southern Auto Corridor. The upgrades are being done to support the Nissan Altima model that is built at both facilities.

Manufacturer setting up shop near Honda’s Alabama plant
Lohr North America, a maker of car carriers, is converting an existing building in Lincoln, Ala., for a new plant. The French company will hire 140 workers in the deal.

France-based auto supplier to locate new operation in Middle Tennessee
Faurecia Interior Systems announced it will locate a $30 million plant in Maury County, Tenn. The plant will house 143 workers.

Michelin to reopen Earthmover tire production plant in South Carolina
A Michelin plant that was built in 2012 and idled in 2016, is expected to be back up running soon in Starr, S.C. The tire maker is expected to hire 100 workers for the reopening.

Auto parts supplier adding jobs in Kentucky
Webasto, a sunroof manufacturer, announced in August it will invest $15 million in its panorama roof systems line at its plant in Lexington, Ky. The deal will create 183 jobs.

Daimler delivers 50,000th Freightliner from North Carolina plant
Germany-based Daimler AG, the company that assembles the Freightliner Cascadia, has delivered the 50,000th model of the truck since production began 19 months ago at its plant in Rowan County, N.C. Daimler Trucks North America has garnered about 40 percent of the market share of Class 6 and Class 8 long-haul trucks.

Toyota’s Kentucky plant unveils next generation 2019 Lexus ES 350
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky unveiled the next generation Lexus ES 350 sedan model that is built at the Japanese automaker’s plant in Georgetown. Over 150,000 hours of training was done to build the new ES 350 that included sensory training that teaches workers on the assembly line to feel for defections that could be as small as a strand of hair. The plant will also build the F Sport high-performance model. The Kentucky plant is the only place in the world outside of Japan where Lexus models are produced.

South Carolina-made BMWs now cost more for Chinese buyers
China is a popular destination for South Carolina-made BMW SUVs. However, in the wake of China’s 40 percent tax on U.S. car imports (in a retaliatory move, China added a 25 percent tariff on American vehicles), BMW will raise the price of its vehicles by up to seven percent.

Auto parts distributor to expand operations in Tennessee
Revel Enterprises will invest $2.3 million to expand its auto parts distribution facility in Paris, Tenn. The deal will create 64 jobs.

Auto and truck parts manufacturer hiring in Mississippi
SMW Manufacturing, which opened in Oxford, Miss., in 2017, is expanding after starting the project with 50 jobs. Located in a former Caterpillar facility, the company makes parts for heavy truck, automotive and mining industrial markets. The $4 million deal will create 25 jobs.