Southern Auto Corridor News

September 2020

Mazda Toyota investing $830 million more in Huntsville, Ala., plant.
After initially investing $1.6 billion in its plant being finished in North Alabama, Mazda Toyota will make an additional investment of $830 million to install new advanced manufacturing technologies at the plant. Some of the new investment will also go into training the plant’s 4,000 employees.

Mercedes plant in Alabama among first in the world to use innovative production line system
German automaker Mercedes-Benz is one of the first automakers to use a “digital ecosystem” at its plant in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. This new system incorporates a mix of software and hardware, including sensors on the vehicles, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and hand-held tablets and smartphones.

DURA Automotive opening new Alabama facility
Michigan-based DURA Automotive Systems has announced plans to invest $59 million to open a manufacturing facility in Muscle Shoals, Ala., that will produce battery trays for electric vehicles. The project will create 279 jobs and expands the potential for Alabama’s auto industry to capitalize on the growing EV wave.

Auto supplier plans $45 million expansion in Salisbury, N.C.
Continental Structural Plastics, a manufacturer of automotive and heavy truck composite components, will expand operations with an investment of $45 million in its facility in Salisbury. The company plans to create 61 jobs in Rowan County.

Armored car maker to invest $2.3 million, create 30 jobs in Mississippi
CITE Armored is increasing its presence in Mississippi by establishing van production operations in Batesville. The project is a $2.3 million investment and will create 30 jobs by the end of 2021.

Manufacturer hiring 100 in Cottondale, Ala.
Preferred Precision Group, located in Cottondale, is looking to hire 100 people for manufacturing jobs. PPG provides outsourcing solutions to manufacturers in the automotive, medical device and aerospace industries.

Nokian Tyres adding 50 jobs to Dayton, Tenn., workforce
The Nokian Tyres factory in Dayton, Tenn., is hiring for a second shift with plans to immediately add about 50 more employees.

Toyota and Mazda investing extra $830 million into Alabama factory
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will make an additional $830 million investment to incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees at its assembly plant in Huntsville, Ala. The original plan forecast investment to be $1.6 billion, and production was scheduled to start in 2021. Now, production is expected to start in 2022 at the $2.3 billion facility.

Tesla picks Austin for $1 billion factory
In the summer quarter, California-based Tesla announced it has chosen a site near the Austin airport for a new $1 billion assembly plant complex. The electric car manufacturer has a plant in Fremont, Calif., and one in Shanghai. It also plans to build a factory near Berlin. CEO Elon Musk promised the new facility on the Colorado River will be an “ecological paradise.” The plant will create 5,000 jobs at the start.

Vehicle age hits record high
We thought the record age of vehicles in the Great Recession was bad. This is worse. The average age of vehicles on the streets in the U.S. is now 11.9 years old. According to IHS Markit, nearly one in four vehicles are at least 16 years old.

Big automotive parts plant being built in North Georgia
GEDIA Automotive Group, a manufacturer of automotive parts, announced it will build an advanced manufacturing facility in Whitfield County, Ga. The $85 million project will create 200 jobs.

Auto supplier to add jobs in Tennessee
Automotive supplier Mann+Hummel is filling 100 jobs for its plant in Dunlap, Tenn. The plant currently houses 300 workers and makes manifolds and air boxes for Ford, GM, BMW and Nissan.

Electric vehicle parts supplier to invest in Georgia plant
GEDIA Automotive Group, a maker of parts for electric vehicles, will invest $85 million to build a manufacturing facility in Whitfield County, Ga. The project will generate 200 jobs.

Mercedes-Benz to halt C-Class production at Alabama plant
German automaker Mercedes-Benz will end production of the C-Class sedan at its plant in Vance, Ala., and at facilities in Mexico. The Tuscaloosa County  facility will go back to just making four models of SUVs.

GM hires back laid off workers at Texas plant
In the spring, GM temporarily laid off workers at its large SUV plant in Arlington, Texas. They are now hiring them back in hundreds. The workers were laid off after GM idled many assembly plants between late March and mid-May.

Toyota expands Alabama engine plant for the fifth time since 2003
In the summer quarter, Toyota Alabama announced the fifth expansion of its large engine plant in Huntsville, Ala. The Japanese automaker is adding 450 jobs in the $1.2 billion investment. Toyota’s engine plant in Alabama serves one third of all Toyota vehicles assembled in the U.S.

South Korean battery maker adding 600 jobs
SK Innovation, a manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles, is adding 600 jobs at its plant in Commerce, Ga. In 2018, the Korean company announced a $1.6 billion, 2,000-job commitment. This expansion is worth $940 million.

Dump truck maker adding jobs in Kentucky
Truck Equipment & Body, a maker of dump truck bodies and truck equipment, is expanding in Powell County, Ky. The $2 million project will create 43 jobs.

India-based company locates facility in South Carolina

India-Based AXISCADES, an engineering firm that provides services in the automotive and aerospace industries among others, is opening a facility in Greenville, S.C.

Mercedes plans to make all factories carbon-neutral by 2022
Mercedes-Benz is opening its battery plant near its assembly facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. There, it will build electric SUV vehicles. The goal was to make electric vehicles by 2022 in Europe, but the Alabama plant has been added to the mix.

Mercedes selling SUVs to China a hot commodity
Alabama’s exports to China, even in the midst of trade tensions, grew by 26 percent in the first quarter of this year. One major player is the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Auto exports to China were up 170 percent in the first quarter. . . the vast majority of that increase came from Alabama-made Mercedes SUV exports to China.

Tennessee-based Nissan to slash production capacity
Japanese automaker Nissan, which operates its North American headquarters near Nashville, reported a $6.2 billion loss in its latest fiscal year. As a result, the company will close plants in Spain and Indonesia, reducing its models and cutting capacity in the U.S. and elsewhere. Nissan has a worldwide capacity to produce 7 million vehicles but sold only little more than 5 million last year.

Coronavirus to help Mazda Toyota fill jobs in Northern Alabama
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, which is finishing up its $1.6 billion, 4,000-employee plant in Huntsville, Ala., will benefit from jobs lost by the coronavirus. Mazda Toyota had a huge issue prior to the virus. . .it had a 4,000-employee plant that as of the end of 2019, was being built in a market that had no labor. Then came the virus and soaring unemployment. While it will be much easier now to fill those 4,000 positions, the plant has delayed opening as a result of the pandemic.

GM’s Tennessee plant to be run by the sun in less than two years
General Motors’ Spring Hill, Tenn., plant will be run completely by solar energy in 2022. The solar energy will be provided by TVA and one of its solar farms in Lowndes County, Miss., which is currently being built.

School district in Austin dangles $68 million in incentives for Tesla
The Del Valle school district in Austin is considering an incentive package to help lure Tesla to Austin. The $68 million comes in the form of a reduction of property taxes over a 10-year period. Tesla is considering Austin to build a 4 million- to 5 million-square foot facility at a site in Southeast Austin. The electric car plant could house 5,000 or more workers.