February 2020

February 2020

The overall automotive industry is in flux, but not in Alabama
Nashville-based Nissan is cutting production worldwide. GM closed several plants last year in North America. But in Alabama, all four of the state’s automakers are expanding. Alabama is fifth largest in the nation in production of cars and light trucks. It is the third largest state in vehicle exports. Here is what is going on as of the winter quarter at Alabama’s automotive plants:

Mercedes-Benz – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
In 2018, Mercedes announced a $1 billion expansion, including a 1 million-square-foot electric battery plant in nearby Bibb County. The expansion also called for a Consolidation Center that houses vehicle kits to ship overseas. Also, the company has built a 1.3 million-square-foot after sales hub.

Honda – Lincoln, Ala.
Honda has been involved in an $85 million expansion at its plant that houses 4,500 workers. Honda also operates an engine plant onsite. Since 2001, Honda has invested more than $2.6 billion in its East Alabama assembly plant.

Hyundai – Montgomery, Ala.
Hyundai is finishing up a $388 million engine shop. In November, the South Korean automaker announced a $410 million expansion for stamping and welding. The company is also adding 200 jobs and suppliers in and around Montgomery and is expected to create 1,000 jobs with this latest expansion. The company is also adding a new line for its Santa Cruz model.

Mazda Toyota – Huntsville, Ala.
Mazda Toyota’s joint Huntsville facility is currently under construction and the first production line will open in early 2021. The $1.6 billion facility has attracted several suppliers to Limestone and Madison counties. Mazda Toyota will employ 4,000 workers and both lines will make Mazda and Toyota models. Annual capacity will be 300,000 vehicles.

Major changes at San Antonio Toyota plant
Toyota officials announced in the winter quarter model changes at their plant in San Antonio, Texas. The plant will stop assembling its best-selling Tacoma pickup truck and move all of that production to a plant in Mexico. To fill the gap of Tacoma truck production, the Japanese automaker will move assembly of its lowest-selling vehicle, the Sequoia SUV, from its plant in Indiana to San Antonio in 2021. Toyota officials said that the San Antonio plant has been at maximum capacity since 2016 and that the move will “make room for market growth and achieve long-term sustainability of future production in San Antonio.” Some auto industry officials speculated that the move will give Toyota the ability to produce more SUVs at the Texas plant in the future. The plant has been open since 2006, and to date, has only produced pickup trucks. Toyota will continue to produce the full-size Tundra pickup in San Antonio.

Toyota to shift production of small pickup to Mexico
Plano, Texas-based Toyota is moving production of its Tacoma small pickup truck from San Antonio to Mexico. . .however, no jobs will be lost in Texas. The San Antonio plant, which houses about 3,200 workers, will begin assembly of the Sequoia large SUV. It also builds the full-size Tundra pickup.

Mazda Toyota accepting applications for Huntsville plant
Mazda Toyota has started accepting applications for production line positions at its new plant in Limestone County, Ala. As of January, the company announced it is accepting applications for 3,000 positions.

Auto supplier setting up shop in Alabama
CCI Manufacturing USA Corp., a Tier 1 auto supplier, is investing $21.5 million to build a new facility in Lawrence County, Ala. The deal will create 28 jobs. The company makes brake fluid and engine coolant.

Auto supplier to expand in Tennessee
Michigan-based Adient is investing over $23 million in its automotive seating plant in Lexington, Tenn. The expansion project will create 330 jobs.

Hyundai made more vehicles at Alabama plant in 2019
South Korea-based Hyundai announced in the winter it produced 336,000 vehicles in 2019 at its plant in Montgomery, Ala. The total was about 4 percent higher than in 2018. The Santa Fe SUV led all vehicles made at the plant last year. The facility also assembles the Sonata and Elantra sedans.

New trucking plant will create 250 jobs in Roanoke, Va.
Mack Trucks recently unveiled its brand-new Roanoke County facility. The $13 million Roanoke Valley Operation will provide 250 jobs.

Automobile terminal at Alabama State Docks will create jobs
An automobile terminal is being constructed at the Alabama State Docks in Mobile. The $60 million, 57-acre terminal will handle shipments of finished automobiles. . .up to 150,000 vehicles annually. The project is a joint venture between Terminal Zarate, based in Argentina, and Neltume Ports, based in Chile.

Georgia lands first Korean supplier to car battery plant
Georgia has landed the first Korean suppler to the electric vehicle battery plant that will serve as the single largest foreign investment in the state’s history. EnChem, which makes electrolytes that go into rechargeable lithium batteries, will build two separate facilities next to the nearly $1.7 billion SK Innovation plant in Jackson County. Combined, the two locations will create 300 jobs with an investment of $61.35 million.

Chinese auto supplier expands in Tennessee
China-based Minth Group, a designer and manufacturer of structural body, trim and decorative parts for the automotive industry, will invest $87 million to expand operations in Lewisburg, Tenn. The automotive supplier will create 254 new jobs in Marshall County.

WABCO expands distribution at its Kentucky plant
WABCO USA plans to triple its employment as it reinvests over $3 million in the distribution portion of its heavy duty truck parts manufacturing and warehousing facility in Hebron, Ky. WABCO currently employs 77 there.

General Motors plans major expansion in Tennessee
General Motors plans to invest $40 million at its Global Propulsion Systems plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. The project will increase capacity of the 5.3L V8 engines for GM’s full-size truck and SUV programs.

GM Arlington moving 300 temps to full-time
Close to 300 temporary workers at General Motors’ largest assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, are being moved up to full-time status, the automaker announced recently. Nationwide, more than 1,350 hourly GM employees at 14 manufacturing plants and other sites in eight states will be elevated to full-time status.

Texas-based Toyota invests $394 million into flying taxis
Toyota Motor Co. is making a $394 million investment in California-based Joby Aviation, one of the handful of companies with the goal of making electric air taxis that shuttle people over gridlocked highways and city streets. Toyota is the lead investor, and makes Joby the best-funded “eVTOL” (electric vertical take-off and landing) startup in a booming category that must still overcome regulatory hurdles and concerns about passenger safety and noise. Joby has raised a total of $720 million.

Volvo building U.S. battery assembly plant in South Carolina
In preparation for bringing a new line of electric vehicles to the U.S. market, Volvo announced it will build a battery assembly plant at its existing facility in Ridgeville, S.C. The plant is part of a $600 million expansion project in Ridgeville, which began rolling out the Swedish automaker’s luxury sport sedan, the S60, in late 2018. The current expansion also includes a second production line for an electrified version of its flagship XC90 crossover. Approximately 1,000 jobs will be created for the XC90 production line, but no word yet on how many jobs might be created for the battery assembly plant.

Ficosa to add 100 jobs in Tennessee
Michigan-based manufacturer of vehicle mirrors and other parts, Ficosa, will discontinue operations at its facility in Shelbyville, Ky., and move the plant’s manufacturing activity to its facility in Cookeville, Tenn. The consolidation will result in 100 new hires at the Shelbyville location.

Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle