Southern Auto Corridor News

April 2024

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Alabama claims No. 1 spot last year for auto-exporting states for the first time

Alabama has become the nation’s No. 1 auto-exporting state, with international vehicle shipments surging past $11.2 billion in 2023 to overtake long-time leader South Carolina, according to new trade data.

Alabama’s auto exports have climbed 45% in value since 2021, when they totaled $7.7 billion, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Alabama’s auto industry has become an exporting powerhouse, with vehicles produced in the state finding markets around the world,” said Ellen McNair, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

While Alabama’s auto exports have been climbing, South Carolina’s have remained steady at just over $10 billion a year since 2021, the data indicate. Other top auto-exporting states include Michigan, California and Texas.

Alabama auto exports landed in 78 countries in 2023, with major trading partners Germany, China and Canada being the leading destinations, according to Commerce data.


Imola Automotive USA establishing a plant in Fort Valley, Ga.

The Italian electric car manufacturer will break ground in the third quarter of 2024, eventually employing 7,500 people.


North American Stainless to celebrate $244 million Carroll County, Ky. expansion Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials and leadership from North American Stainless (NAS) and its parent company, Spain-based Acerinox, to celebrate the one-year mark since the company announced a $244 million expansion at its Carroll County facility, a project creating 70 full-time jobs. The expansion to the company’s 4.4 million-square-foot Ghent facility consists of a new cold rolling mill, new roll grinders, extensive upgrades of anneal and pickling lines to support the new rolling mill, a new temper mill and the expansion of the melt shop building.


Owl’s Head Alloys locating aluminum processing plant in West Point, Miss.

The Bowling Green, Ky.-based company will invest $29 million and create 68 new jobs.

South Carolina

Scout Motors to be revived in South Carolina

We are seeing just about every conceivable combination there are right now as automakers making a bee-line to electrification. One such effort at taking a brand that was built by International Harvester decades ago is reviving the old Scout brand, which many consider the first SUV. Volkswagen and others have invested in Scout Motors and plan a $2 billion factory capable of making up to 200,000 of the iconic vehicles in South Carolina. Reports state that Scout Motors will build its factory in Blythewood about 20 miles north of Columbia, which will ultimately employ 4,000 people, on 1,600 acres right in the middle of the developing “battery belt.” The plant itself will occupy 1,100 acres of that property.

AESC is spending over $3 billion in South Carolina

AESC, a world-leading battery technology company, announced the expansion of its lithium-ion electric vehicle battery manufacturing operations in Florence County, S.C. The company’s $1.5 billion investment will create 1,080 new jobs. This investment follows AESC’s initial announcement in December 2022 and expansion announcement in December 2023, resulting in a total investment of $3.12 billion and supporting 2,700 new jobs across the local community.

In 2022, the company announced a multi-year partnership with BMW to supply technology-leading battery cells to be used in the next generation electric vehicle models produced at Plant Spartanburg. AESC’s latest expansion will extend the partnership to additionally provide electric vehicle battery components for BMW Group’s Mexico Assembly Operations.


Construction progress at Ford’s BlueOval City near Memphis

Work on West Tennessee’s BlueOval City is entering a new phase.

Last year, Ford hit peak construction employment in Q3 2023, matching the timing given years ago when Ford first came to town. In fact, when plant manager Kel Kearns first gave that timeline, BlueOval City was still an empty field.

Months later, it was an active construction site about 50% done — with plenty of mud still around — when Ford CEO Jim Farley visited in March 2023. The company has spent billions getting construction and supplies and is now entering the installation phase.

As of April, machinery is being installed in BlueOval City’s paint shop, vehicle assembly, and stamping areas. That means work now moves inside the massive facilities on campus, with literal tons of equipment installed in a way that has been planned for months to ensure top-level efficiency.

Now, as the campus begins installing machines, that would be followed by new workers, then Ford starts producing trucks to be delivered to customers in 2026.

Ford doubling down on EVs, hybrids at BlueOval City’s T3 gets release window

Ford Motor Co. announced that it is embracing electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles for its Ford Blue division. By the end of the decade, it plans to offer hybrid powertrains on every model.