December 2018

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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.


Author: Michael Randle