Southern Auto Corridor News

March 2022

Amazon- and Ford-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian gets a break in Georgia

In the fall of 2021, electric vehicle startup Rivian announced one of the South’s largest-ever economic development deals. The company announced it would build a $5 billion, 7,500-employee facility to make batteries and electric vehicles for U.S. and global consumption. The company is well financed, with major stockholders coming from Amazon and Ford Motor Company, among other major players. But like many mega-projects located near large MSAs (the deal is being built on a site just east of Atlanta in an area bordered by Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties), there is some local opposition. However, the state of Georgia has taken over the project and its site in Stanton Springs. Commissioner Pat Wilson of the Georgia Department of Economic Development said in the winter quarter, by taking the steps to acquire the property, “streamline the entire project process, giving community members a strong voice throughout.” The state’s ownership of the 2,000-acre Rivian site will erase the need for local governments to conduct public hearings on zoning and other controversial developments. Construction on the battery and electric vehicle plants is expected to start this summer and production to begin in 2024.

 

Ford picks construction company for Blue Oval City project in West Tennessee

Detroit-based construction company Walbridge will be the general contractor for Ford Motor Company’s Blue Oval City, a $5.6 billion battery and electric vehicle assembly facility being built in Haywood County, Tenn., between Memphis and Jackson. The campus will be constructed on a nearly six-square-mile site to build Ford’s next-generation all-electric F-series pickups and SK Innovation’s advanced batteries. Ford and battery maker SK Innovation announced the project in September. A joint venture called BlueOvalSK will also construct twin battery plants in Glendale, Ky., in an estimated $5.8 billion investment. The two projects in Tennessee and Kentucky are expected to create an estimated 10,800 jobs and shift the automaker’s future manufacturing footprint to the South.

 

Another new semiconductor plant expansion under consideration in the South

Germany-based Infineon Technologies is considering putting $700 million into its chip fab plant in Southeast Austin. The company, if the deal is approved, will invest $625 million in new machinery and adding space at the plant. Several large semiconductor plants have been announced in the South as manufacturers struggle to find enough computer chips for automobiles, smart phones and other products. The chip shortage in the automotive industry is expected to cost $210 billion in revenue and has increased car prices by more than 10 percent in the last year. . .over 7 million vehicle units will not be built this year.

 

Nissan Mississippi joins the electric vehicle parade

There are no less than 22 major automotive assembly plants undergoing some kind of large expansion in an effort to build electric vehicles. Some of those single investments total more $5 billion. Add Nissan’s Canton, Miss., plant to the mix. The Japanese automaker is investing $500 million to construct a new electric vehicle line with production beginning in 2025. Nissan is investing $18 billion worldwide to electrify its vehicle line.

 

New mail truck plant to stay — for now — in South Carolina

Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense is sticking with its decision to build a plant in Spartanburg County, S.C., to produce U.S.P.S. mail trucks despite efforts by Wisconsin officials and union leaders to keep the company’s new investment in their state. Company officials said in the winter quarter that the project was too far into development stage to change sites and that there were no facilities available in Wisconsin large enough to house the 1,000 workers expected to be hired.

 

Toyota begins grading North Carolina megasite

Japanese automaker Toyota has begun to prep the Greensboro Randolph County Megasite where it is building a major electric vehicle battery plant. The plant is expected to house 1,700 workers with an annual payroll of over $100 million and will begin production in 2025. Toyota also announced in the winter quarter that it is investing $73 million in a new facility at its Buffalo, W.Va., plant that will produce electric vehicle components.

 

South Carolina exports near $30 billion in 2021

The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the SC Ports Authority announced in the winter that the Palmetto State’s exports totaled $29.7 billion last year. South Carolina is the nation’s largest exporter of tires and fully assembled automobiles.

 

Largest private project in Arkansas history breaks ground

In the winter quarter, U.S. Steel broke ground on a new $3 billion steel mill in Osceola, Ark., that will bring thousands of jobs to Northeast Arkansas. The steel mill will be the most advanced in the world and is expected to produce automotive parts such as hoods and roofs that are not available with current steel making technology.

 

Nucor is the latest steel plant to call the South home

Charlotte-based Nucor is bringing a new steel plant to West Virginia, but as of this writing no site in the state has been chosen. Once operational in 2024, the mill will have the capacity to produce up to 3 million tons of sheet steel per year for the automotive, appliance, HVAC, heavy equipment, agricultural, transportation and construction markets, according to the steel and steel products manufacturer. The new plant will feature an advanced high-end automotive line.

 

Nissan investing $500 million in Mississippi expansion

Nissan will build two all-new, all-electric vehicles at its Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi. The automaker will invest $500 million in its Canton facility to support the expansion, which will bring the company’s total investment in Mississippi since 2003 to $4 billion.

 

Carvana adding 3,500 employees in Atlanta

Fueled by high demand for used vehicles, Carvana said it plans to hire as many as 3,500 new employees in Georgia over the next few years as the online retailer expands its campus in Dunwoody. The fast-growing firm recently subleased a 21-story building at the suburban State Farm complex, which was the city’s biggest lease of 2021.

 

Louisiana will spend $75 million on EV charging stations

Louisiana is set to receive $75 million in federal funding over the next five years to install a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s highways. The funding is part of a $5 billion program included in the infrastructure law approved by Congress that is expected to result in $14.1 million allocated to Louisiana for this fiscal year.

 

Tech manufacturer could bring up to 2,000 jobs to Georgetown, Texas

California-based tech company CelLink has plans to put a 300,000-square-foot facility in Georgetown, Texas. The new $130 million factory will supply electric vehicle manufacturers with intelligent wiring systems.

 

Electric truck manufacturer to locate in Osceola, Ark., bringing 800 jobs

Envirotech Vehicles will locate a multimillion-dollar commercial electric vehicle plant in Osceola, with plans to hire up to 800 workers over the next 10 years. The 90-acre, 580,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will be located in a vacant Fruit of the Loom factory in Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas.

 

AutoZone’s new distribution center in New Kent County, Va., creating 352 jobs

AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, will invest $185.2 million to establish a new warehouse and distribution center in New Kent County. The 800,000-square-foot facility will serve as the company’s East Coast distribution operation, creating 352 new jobs.

 

Volvo global HQ for financial services coming to Greensboro, N.C.

Volvo will move its global headquarters for financial services to Greensboro, the company announced during a news conference and groundbreaking ceremony in February. Volvo executives said 360 colleagues will relocate to this new facility. The company is investing $41 million in the Triad to make this happen.

 

DeLorean Motor Co. plans new San Antonio HQ and 450 jobs

DeLorean Motor Co. is planning a comeback that will include electric vehicle production and a global headquarters in San Antonio. The company was previously based in Humble, just outside of Houston. The deal, contingent on final approval of various incentive packages, would bring approximately 450 new jobs to the Alamo City.

 

Australia-based Syrah expands Louisiana graphite processing facility

Syrah Resources is investing $176 million to expand its Syrah Technologies graphite processing facility in Vidalia, La. The project is expected to create 36 new jobs to process graphite into material used in lithium-ion batteries for the electric vehicle industry. The expansion comes on the heels of a December 2021 agreement with Tesla to supply graphite AAM for use in batteries.

 

EV supplier coming to Bulloch County, Ga.

Aspen Aerogels is opening a manufacturing plant in Bulloch County, Ga., that could add more than 250 jobs and $300 million in investment. The plant will make thermal barriers that will insulate batteries on electric cars.

 

Toyota adds hybrid product in Tennessee

Toyota has announced plans to increase the workload at its facility in Jackson, Tenn., known as Toyota Tennessee, by investing $17 million to give the plant the technology to begin casting hybrid transaxle cases and housings.

 

Ford E-Transit shipments begin from KC plant

In February, Ford began shipping its E-Transit van — its second fully electric vehicle EV — from its Kansas City-area assembly plant, which is the first such facility to build both batteries and vehicles themselves in-house. The Claycomo, Mo., plant gained a $100 million investment from Ford and created 150 new jobs to help make the electric version of the popular cargo van, which has more than 10,000 orders.