Top Automotive Deals in the South – Summer 2022

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements Made in the Summer 2022 Quarter

CompanyJobs$InvN/ELocationDescription
1. Toyota1,000$2,500NRandolph Co., N.C.EV batteries
2. Mercedes-Benz1,000N/AETuscaloosa Co., Ala.Electric vehicles
3. Ascend Elements400$300NHopkinsville, Ky.EV parts
4. Hankook Tire397$612EClarksville, Tenn. Tires
5. Bosch350$200EAnderson, S.C.EV fuel cells
6. Eberspaecher250N/ANLouisville, Ky.Auto parts
7. ATC Drivetrain218$8NKnoxville, Tenn.Auto powertrains
8. MP Materials150N/ANFort Worth, TexasRare earth magnets
9. Nippon Denkai100$150NAugusta, Ga.EV parts
10. Shinhwa Auto42$78EAuburn, Ala.Auto parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

 

Top Automotive Deals in the South – Spring 2022

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements Made in the Spring 2022 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Hyundai8,100$6,000NSavannah, Ga.Electric vehicles
2. Envision AESC2,000$2,000NBowling Green, Ky.EV batteries
3. Volkswagen1,000N/AEChattanooga, Tenn.Auto assembly
4. Nissan600$500ECanton, Miss.Electric vehicles
5. Nucor500N/AEMason Co., W.Va.Automotive steel
6. Schneider Electric400$100NEl Paso, TexasAuto parts
7. Volvo360$41RGreensboro, N.C.Financial services
8. Toyota220$222EHuntsville, Ala.Engines
9. Nucor200$350NLexington, N.C.Automotive steel
10. Hyundai200$300EMontgomery, Ala.Electric vehicles

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

 

Top Automotive Deals in the South – Winter 2022

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements Made in the Winter 2022 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Vinfast7,500$2,000NChatham Co., N.C.Electric vehicles
2. Carvana3,500N/AEAtlanta, Ga.Used vehicles
3. Mazda Toyota1,200N/AEHuntsville, Ala.Auto assembly
4. GreenPower Motor900N/ANCharleston, W.Va.Electric buses
5. Envirotech800N/ANOsceola, Ark.Electric trucks
6. DeLorean Motor450N/ANSan Antonio, TexasHeadquarters
7. Aspen Aerogels250$300NBulloch Co., Ga.EV parts
8. Alkegen250N/ARIrving, TexasEV parts
9. Proterra200$176ESpartanburg, S.C.Electric buses
10. Arrival150$11ECharlotte, N.C.EV parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

 

Multiple semiconductor deals announced and rumors of others; billions being spent in the South to solve chip supply chain issues

By Michael Randle

Out of nowhere, just about every industry in the U.S. faced a chip shortage crisis in recent years, particularly the last five years. We should have known.

Beginning in the early 1990s, many U.S. and foreign-based companies outsourced semiconductor production to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia. The Japanese were already big chip producers, but back then, it was all about costs and the U.S. and Japan could not compete with China.

That was the case until Asian wages, including those in China and Malaysia, went through the roof. Because of that, in about 2009 the word “reshoring” was invented. The idea was this: U.S. wages had stagnated for years, but that was a good thing to major manufacturers. All of a sudden, a manufacturer could produce goods – in the South, anyway – for about the same costs as in China, factoring in rising wages, shipping costs and others issues surrounding making something halfway around the world for U.S. consumption.

In the mid-2000s, after manufacturers of every sector known, left the U.S. in a herd mentality to Asia and Mexico, major corporations were all for free trade. They could make stuff and pay $2-an-hour. It might not have been well-made stuff, but it was made and it was bought to be assembled right here in the USA.

It was about then that corporate minds began to wonder. Why are we producing things over there when we can make them here for about the same costs? At the center of the issue was the semiconductor industry and literally giving China a free pass on intellectual knowledge developed here in the U.S. Computer chips made in China, some as old as 10 years, were being used by American industry and amazingly, still are. Something had to change and it did.

Several multi-billion dollar projects have been announced in Texas and North Carolina in the last year are undeniably being made to counter the Asian issue and the availability of chips for every industry that uses them. Yet, when the automotive industry noticed the problem with a shortage crisis, which seemed to tip the scale.

Two big deals announced in Texas last fall will eventually come to the economy’s rescue. Texas Instruments announced it plans to invest up to $30 billion to build as many as four new semiconductor fabrication plants in Sherman, Texas. TI said it will begin construction in 2022 on the first two plants producing its 300-millimeter wafers used in everything from cars and trucks to industrial machinery. The plants could house up to 3,000 workers when complete. The other big semiconductor facility is by South Korea chip manufacturer Samsung Electronics. It will build a second chip facility in the Austin area in Taylor, Texas. The plants will house thousands of workers.

The rumors

Micron Technology is the latest high-tech giant to consider the Austin area for a multibillion-dollar manufacturing operation. According to the Austin American Statesman, the company was checking out sites near Lockhart, Texas, according to its applications for tax breaks filed with the state comptroller’s office. The investment would total at least $20 billion, but much higher from 2030 to 2040. However, Idaho-based Micron chose a site near Syracuse, N.Y. for its latest venture.

On a much bigger scale, South Korea-based Samsung, which already operates a computer chip plant in Austin and currently building another nearby in Taylor, Texas, is considering 11 new fabrication plants in Central Texas. The projects could top out at $200 billion. The potential plans are described in 11 applications Samsung has filed with the Taylor and Manor school districts seeking tax breaks for building the facilities.

North Carolina has also gotten in to the semiconductor reshoring “herd mentality” act. North Carolina-based Wolfspeed is building a $5 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant, it was announced in September. The company is a world leader in silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturing. The $5 billion being invested is the largest capital investment for an economic development project in North Carolina’s history. The project, located on a site in Siler City, N.C., near the Research Triangle, will create 1,800 new jobs.

Back in the 1990s, every state in the South clamored for semiconductor plants that represent billions in investment and house thousands of good-paying jobs. Since few media properties had websites back then, many of Southern Business & Development’s ads purchased in the print product were about how well-suited this place or that place was for semiconductor manufacturing. I think during that, the South may have landed three chip facilities.

But, by then, it was too late. We had already started the massive offshore massacre that devastated the middle-class in this country. It was the “giant sucking sound,” that Ross Perot phrased during his 1992 US presidential campaign; referring to the sound of U.S. jobs heading south for Mexico should the free-trade agreement go into effect. Mexico got our share of jobs, but China got the lion’s share.

Maybe now, too late has become very early in the reshoring of manufacturing to the U.S. It is just a matter of laws set forth by our lawmakers and how competitive we remain.

Demography has changed the economy

By Michael Randle

We have already written about the void in labor availability and we have for years. That’s been an issue for more than a decade, but it hasn’t been brought to the attention of the mainstream folks – or even some so-called experts — until recently.

Some very smart people still are not familiar with our worker shortages or the reasons behind the shortages. I was tooling around town one Saturday morning this summer, listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition,” when some Ted Talk dude was interviewed. His Ted Talk subject was about the fact that young couples are reluctant to have children because they do not believe they can afford a child. Uh, truly? That is not news, there, amigo. Ha estado sucediendo durante años!

He went on to “reveal” that the challenges in the labor department facing this country “could” have a dramatic effect on the economy as a whole, including funding of social services most of us have paid for, including Social Security and Medicare.

Really? And the Ted Talk editors approved him as a presenter? That means the Ted Talk program’s upper management – and even its editor — does not know much about the issue because it has been around for a long time in this country, most notably in the Northeast and Midwest, two regions that are losing population to the West and the South each year in herds.

So, again, we have written repeatedly about the labor situation, which is dire. Then the pandemic arrived and to the fault of no one, the nation’s economy hit rock bottom the first half of 2020 and improved slightly in the second half.

Since, it has been revived, but few are sure of where the economy is going, up or down. We are not in a recession, as some claim. We may be soon enough. But the lack of knowledge of where we are going is so disturbing if a “Ted Talk” presenter is just getting the message that was clear-as-day eight years ago.

The “New South” is a misnomer. . .the South’s economy is a monster and has been for decades

By Michael Randle

Southern Business & Development is evolving into what we think is a more enjoyable and pleasant report on business and economic development in the South (the print and online product that is the umbrella of RandleReport.com).

Our – speaking for us, not you – competitive nature of slamming other regional economies such as the Midwest and Northeast (rightly so, but so tacky and out-of-date) is over with.

My (our) insecurities of media portraying the South as a backwater place to live, work, own a business and expand to, we do not care about that anymore. Your inaccurate, decades-ago, history-based content no longer pisses us off. We know we were a single-minded duck for 100 years. But now, or for the last 40 years, the South’s economy has thrived like no other regional economy. We were a duck on the world stage. We are now a beautiful swan.

My (our) insecurities are eliminated by data that clearly shows this region is indeed the economic engine of the largest economy on earth. Anxiety, anger, depression, insecurity, a feeling of not being connected with the rest of the world is no longer an issue with us Southerners and its leaders.

The South rules economically and has for a long time. After all, based on GDP, the largest economies in the world are the U.S., China and the 15 states that make up the American South, followed by Germany and Japan.

In the early 1990s, a reporter from the San Antonio Express-News asked me if the South was the region “poised” to lead the U.S.’s economy. I answered, “Poised? Poised?? We were poised to lead the U.S. economy in the late 1970s, but it goes back much longer than that.”

Few knew it or even know it now (don’t tell that to the millions who migrate to the region). It just took us a while to get rid of our tic of being inferior economically. The tic is now gone from facing somewhat constantly the stereotyping and the innuendo that where we live. Immigrants, refugees, U.S.-based migrating folks and natives alike know this is the place to be, as do major international companies. Those that read about the history of the South in the media and believe it is even remotely the same as decades ago, have apparently not come down here to visit to behold the wonder of a region that is now so worldly.

Does the South have economic challenges? Of course it does, like every U.S. region. But the brain-drain of folks moving to the warmest and less expensive place to live, work and own a business has captured many smart people from other regions of the U.S. and the world. It is the cherished and the darling of all regions in the U.S. for foreign-based companies to locate here in this country. I mean, come on down. We need you.

Fall 2022

 BMW to invest $1.7 billion in Upstate South Carolina

Announced in 1992, the German automaker BMW plans to invest $1.7 billion in its U.S. operations to build electric vehicles and batteries, the company announced in October. The investment includes a new line to produce electric vehicles at its plant that employs over 10,000 in Spartanburg County. It also includes $700 million to make battery assemblies in nearby Woodruff, S.C. The automaker expects to build six electric models at the plant by 2030.

 

Mercedes-Benz unveils electric SUV to be built in Alabama

Mercedes-Benz Group AG announced it will build the EQE SUV at the Paris car show in the fall quarter. The German automaker also makes the flagship EQS sedan at its Alabama complex. Mercedes’ goal is to go all electric by the end of the decade.

 

Ford announces big deal in Louisville

Michigan-based Ford Motor Company will invest $700 million in its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. The facility produces the all-new Ford F-Series Super Duty truck, among other models. Ford is the largest maker of vehicles in Kentucky and its two Louisville plants house over 12,000 workers.

 

BMW makes its 6 millionth vehicle at South Carolina plant

A BMW X6 rolled off the line in October, representing the 6 millionth vehicle made at its plant in Spartanburg County, S.C. The plant houses over 10,000 employees and has been in operation for 30 years.

 

Bridgestone announces major Tennessee expansion

Bridgestone announced a major expansion and modernization of its Warren County, Tenn. Truck and Bus Radial (TBR) Tire Plant located in Morrison. The $550 million investment will add 380 new jobs and expand the plant’s existing footprint by 850,000 square feet to support increased capacity and to accelerate the use of advanced technologies that support cleaner, safer and more efficient commercial truck and bus fleets.

 

Boysen USA establishing operations in Spartanburg County, S.C.

Boysen USA, a subsidiary of the German-based Boysen Group, announced plans to expand its South Carolina presence with a new operation in Spartanburg County. The company’s $4.5 million investment will create 88 new jobs. A specialist in automotive exhaust technology, Boysen USA develops and manufactures exhaust manifolds, catalytic converters, particulate traps, silencers and complete exhaust systems for leading original equipment manufacturers.

 

Governor Ivey announces Hyundai Mobis plans EV battery plant in Montgomery, Ala.

Governor Kay Ivey recently joined executives of Hyundai Mobis, one of the world’s largest auto suppliers, to announce the company’s plans to invest $205 million to open an EV battery module plant in Montgomery that will eventually employ at least 400 people. Once it reaches full production, the 450,000-square-foot facility will be able to supply over 200,000 EV batteries annually to the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) factory in Montgomery and the Kia Georgia plant. “Alabama’s auto manufacturing sector is evolving rapidly to capitalize on the EV revolution that is sweeping the industry, and this new Hyundai Mobis battery plant represents another milestone in that transition,” said Governor Ivey. “We’re excited about the company’s new investment and what it represents for the next chapter of auto making in Alabama.”

 

After some thought, Toyota joins big in the EV manufacturing craze.

Toyota adds $2.5 billion on top of the $1.3 billion initial investment announced for its first U.S. battery factory in Liberty, N.C., near Greensboro. Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina is expected to produce batteries for its electric vehicle at the site in 2025.

Automakers, both foreign and domestic, have begun a land grab of tens of thousands of acres in the South to product electric vehicles and their primary parts, such as batteries.

Toyota officials have been slow to announce EV deals until now. In late August, Toyota’s Executive Vice President, Jack Hollis, said in multiple media reports that “the consumer isn’t demanding (EVs) at that level,” referring to the growing movement towards electric vehicles in the U.S.

 

Mercedes begins assembling electric vehicles at Alabama plant

Twenty-five years after rolling out SUV job No. 1 at its plant in Vance, Ala., German automaker Mercedes-Benz assembled its first electric SUV at its only U.S. OEM facility. Five years of development and $1 billion in investments for battery-making and a new assembly line has created 1,000 new jobs in West Alabama. During that time, Mercedes has faced all kinds of hurdles to start EV production, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the semi-conductor shortage, staffing challenges and global supply chain issues. The automaker houses nearly 5,000 workers at its plants in Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties.

 

Two-million-square-foot industrial park planned near Mazda Toyota in North Alabama

Fairway Investments and Triad Properties have purchased land to build a two-million-square foot industrial park off Greenbriar Parkway in the fast-growing Limestone County part of Huntsville. The property is located a short distance from the $2.3 billion Mazda and Toyota’s joint venture automotive assembly plant in Limestone County, Ala. The name of the park will be the Huntsville West Industrial Park.

 

Monster electric vehicle plant’s construction has first job fair

Barnett Southern hosted a job fair in the Savannah, Ga., area to attract laborers to help begin excavation ahead of construction at the Bryan County megasite that will house the incoming Hyundai EV plant.  Over 1,000 jobseekers attended the job fair.

 

Japanese electric vehicle parts maker to shift location of $150 million plant from South Carolina to Georgia

Nippon Denkai will build a $150 million plant in Augusta, Ga., instead of its original site in Camden, S.C. The plant will make copper foil for electric vehicle batteries. The company will hire 100 in the deal.

 

Electric vehicle parts maker making major investment in Kentucky

In late August, Envision AESC broke ground on a $2 billion electric vehicle battery gigafactory in Bowling Green’s Kentucky Transpark. The deal, a further testament that the EV industry is positively affecting just about every Southern state, is expected to generate 2,000 jobs.

 

EV battery parts maker to invest over $300 million in Western Kentucky

Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements picks Hopkinsville for a plant that will produce materials for electric vehicle batteries, Gov. Andy Beshear announced in August. The plant will house up to 400 employees.

 

Automotive supplier Purem by Eberspaecher to add 250 workers in Louisville, Ky.

Purem by Eberspaecher, a German automotive supplier, celebrated the opening of its Louisville operation in August. The deal will create 250 jobs.

 

Vietnamese electric carmaker to receive largest incentive package in North Carolina history

VinFast, a Vietnam-based EV manufacturer, will receive an incentive package from the state of North Carolina that will top $1 billion. VinFast is quickly entering the North American and European markets and will employ thousands at its plant in Chatham County, N.C.

 

Bosch will invest $200 million to build fuel cells for electric trucks in South Carolina

German auto supplier Bosch said it will invest more than $200 million to build fuel cells for electric trucks in South Carolina. Bosch plans to expand an existing factory in Anderson, S.C., to build the fuel cell “stacks” starting in 2026. The investment is expected to create at least 350 new jobs at the factory, the company said.

 

Foreign-based tire makers grow to invest more than $5 billion in Tennessee

The world’s biggest tire manufacturers are boosting their investments and tire output in Tennessee with nearly $1.2 billion of additional investments announced in just the past week. The South Korean-based Hankook Tire & Technology Company said it will invest another $612 million in its Clarksville, Tenn., plant and add 397 more jobs over the next five years.

 

South Korean company to locate first North American in Tennessee

Duksan Electera America will locate a new manufacturing facility in Shelbyville, Tenn. The EV-based parts maker will invest $95 million and hire over 100 in the deal.

Summer 2022

Lithium-ion batteries for your EV? Try solid-state batteries

In recent years, car giants such as Ford, Mercedes and Nissan have been trying to overcome the shortcomings of batteries that power electric vehicles by racing to produce a next-generation battery. In all cases of lithium-ion batteries, they underperformed even after billions were invested in their development. Not only that, the liquid electrolytes used in the batteries are prone to catching fire.

Enter a new player in the fourth quarter of electric vehicle power development. Many if not all existing and startup EV and battery manufacturers are now rallying around solid-state batteries, which do not contain liquid electrolytes and can charge quicker and last longer.

Rivian incentive deal approved by Morgan County, Ga., board

A Morgan County, Ga., board signed off in June on a property rental agreement that’s a centerpiece of the $1.5 billion incentive package offered to electric vehicle maker Rivian. The 4-1 vote means the Morgan County Board of Assessors ruled the rental agreement, known as a usufruct, does not make Rivian’s interest in the property taxable. In essence, the decision will allow Rivian to rent the land and future factory buildings on the nearly 2,000-acre site without paying typical property taxes.

The rental agreement is one of several components of Rivian’s incentive package — and by far the largest — providing some $700 million in property tax savings over the 25-year term. Under the terms of the agreement, Rivian will pay more than $300 million over 25 years to local governments and school systems under a payment in lieu of taxes agreement or PILOT.

Volkswagen chief says German car giant will overtake Tesla on EV sales by 2025

The chief executive of Volkswagen believes Europe’s biggest carmaker can overtake Tesla to become the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles by 2025. Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Herbert Diess said alleviating supply chain issues would likely help create some momentum for the German auto giant over the coming months.

Nissan mulling third auto plant in US to meet electric vehicle demand

Nissan is considering adding a new auto plant in the U.S. to keep up with growing demand for electric vehicles, a top executive at the Japanese automaker said. “It may not be a surprise that we go for a third plant,” Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta told reporters at Yokohama headquarters. Nissan Motor Co. now has two auto plants in the U.S. One in Canton, Miss., makes the Titan pickup truck and Altima sedan, among other models. The other in Smyrna, Tenn., makes the Leaf electric car, Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and other models. Each of the plants employ thousands of workers and has produced millions of Nissan vehicles. The third plant would not just be an added assembly line to an existing plant, but a totally new facility, although it may be built as an extension of an existing plant, Gupta said.

Letter to the Editor

“My friend, your prediction more than 20 years ago of the South becoming the center of auto manufacturing in North America has now taken another giant step forward. The announcement that Hyundai will build its first electric car plant in Georgia confirms it in this new era. I will take lucky and good every time.”

J. Mac Holladay

CEO, Market Street Services, Atlanta, Ga.

New research shows American workers not better off with less foreign-born workers

Former President Trump’s intentional depletion of legal immigrant visas and the COVID-19 pandemic reduced legal immigration in the U.S. by as much as 80 percent to just 250,000 in 2020. But, according to research, U.S. workers were not better off with the reduction in immigration. In fact, the lack of foreign workers helped create worse economic conditions. The lack of labor has created worker shortages, school closures, empty shelves in stores, shorter hours in retail and hospitality, skyrocketing childcare costs and the inability of many companies to fill open positions. According to Madeline Zavodny, an economics professor at the University of North Florida and a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the reduction in workers as a result of COVID and cuts in immigration showed no evidence that less foreign workers improved economic outcomes of U.S.-born workers.

World’s largest truck maker says it’s facing enormous supply chain pressure

Supply chain disruptions are still rippling across the globe, and the head of the world’s largest truck maker has warned that shortages of parts are slowing the production of thousands of its vehicles. Daimler Truck CEO Martin Daum told CNBC that the current supply chain squeeze is among the worst he’s seen in his more-than-25-year career, resulting in major bottlenecks across the company’s suite of brands. “We are facing enormous pressure on the supply chain,” said Daum, whose trucks are used for vital industries such as logistics and construction. “I would say it’s one of the worst years ever in my long career in trucking, where we sometimes have to touch a truck three, four times to add the missing parts,” he added. But Daum said that shortages of other parts are also continuing to slow the production of thousands of trucks across its international network of factories. “We have, in a couple of factories, more than 10,000 trucks where one or two parts are missing and we desperately search the world for those parts,” he said.

How the new Hyundai Motor factory stacks up to other big Georgia deals

South Korean giant Hyundai Motor Group made official this year its plans to build a sprawling electric vehicle factory in Bryan County near Savannah. The project is expected to employ as many as 8,100 people and involves a roughly $5.5 billion investment, ranking as one of the largest corporate recruitments in Georgia’s history. The project comes just six months after Georgia announced the $5 billion Rivian electric vehicle factory, which will be built an hour east of Atlanta. In just the last few years, three of Georgia’s biggest recruitment projects ever have all been related to electric vehicles. In 2018, the state landed a battery plant from South Korean conglomerate SK Innovation. It’s all part of a big bet by Georgia leaders to ensure a place in the electrified future of the auto industry.

Two huge Ford Motor deals

Ford Motor and battery supplier SK Innovation have planned to invest over $11 billion at two sites in the South, one in Kentucky and the other in Tennessee. The projects will produce electric vehicles and batteries. The two sites are the Memphis Regional Megasite and the Glendale Megasite in Hardin County, Ky. The Tennessee project will include a 3,600-acre campus, a supplier park, recycling center and a new assembly plant to build F-Series trucks. The two projects are expected to create almost 11,000 full-time jobs and are part of President Joe Biden’s call for companies to onshore supply chains amid the global shortage of semiconductor chips and the logistics backlog that is being experienced in the supply chain from foreign countries. The state of Tennessee invested more than $174 million on improvements at the Memphis Regional Megasite. Tens of millions have also been spent on the Glendale Megasite in central Kentucky over the years as well. That site came in second in the Hyundai site search that ended up in Montgomery, Ala., nearly 20 years ago.

The average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways hits a record 12.2 years

The average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways edged higher in 2021, hitting a record of 12.2 years, as Americans challenged by high car prices and slim pickings on dealer lots hold on to cars longer. This was the fifth straight year the average vehicle age in the U.S. has increased, according to new data released by research firm S&P Global Mobility. Vehicles on average have been getting older in the U.S. for the past two decades as quality has improved and cars generally are lasting longer, analysts say. During the pandemic, the trend has only accelerated, largely because of a computer-chip shortage that has curbed factory output and left dealership lots bare. With car supplies constrained, prices have also soared on both new and used vehicles, resulting in more shoppers choosing to delay purchases. The average vehicle age crossed 12 years for the first time in 2020, the firm found.

ALABAMA

Four of the top 10 U.S.-made vehicles come from Alabama

Cars.com is back with its American-Made Index, and Alabama once again figures prominently in the 2022 ranking. The list ranks vehicles made and bought in the U.S., listing 95 vehicles based on five criteria: assembly location, parts content, engine origins, transmission origins and U.S. manufacturing workforce. Topping the list again is Tesla, with its Model Y. However, this year, all four vehicles made at Honda’s Lincoln, Ala., plant placed in the top 10 — Honda’s Ridgeline truck, Odyssey mini-van, Pilot mid-size SUV and Passport.

Alabama-made vehicles also have healthy representation outside the top 10. Hyundai’s Santa Fe SUV, made in Montgomery, checks in at No. 39, while the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup is a few slots lower at No. 43, and the Hyundai Tucson compact SUV is at No. 48, in its first year on the survey. From Vance, Ala., the Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV is ranked No. 51. Another newcomer to the list is the Toyota Corolla Cross, the SUV manufactured in Huntsville. Mercedes’ GLS SUV is at No. 68, while the Hyundai Elantra is at No. 95.

Toyota expands Huntsville, Ala., operations

Toyota plans to invest $222 million at its manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Ala. The company will create a new production line for four-cylinder engines, including a hybrid electric version. The project is part of a $383 million company-wide plan that injects new investment into four U.S. manufacturing plants that support powertrain production for Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Plants in Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee are included, with the Alabama facility receiving the largest investment. The investments advance Toyota’s commitment to vehicle electrification and meeting customer demand, according to company officials.

One thousand more jobs available at Mazda-Toyota plant

Toyota and Mazda are looking for 1,200 more employees to help build vehicles at their new joint plant in Huntsville, Ala. After the recent rollout of Mazda’s first vehicle from the plant — the CX-50 crossover SUV — VP of production Janette Hostettler said, “The team members here have worked so hard and put so much heart and passion into the vehicle, but I still need about 1,200 more of y’all.”

Korean parts supplier expanding its Alabama operations

Auto parts supplier Shinhwa Auto USA Corp. announced a $78 million expansion of its Auburn operations at Auburn Technology Park West. The company supplies parts for Montgomery’s Hyundai plant and Kia in West Point, Ga. The project will create 42 jobs.

KENTUCKY

Excitement grows with massive EV battery plant planned for Bowling Green, Ky.

A major electric vehicle battery plant is coming to Bowling Green, and the excitement in the community is palpable. According to reports, a new factory to supply battery materials has longtime Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon thrilled about the expected 2,000 new jobs it will bring to Warren County. “This is a real transformational type of business. It actually puts us into a totally different employment sector than we’ve had in the past. It means that Bowling Green will be a focal point for the electric vehicle because where they make the batteries is where they’ll make everything else,” Buchanon said.

Envision AESC, a world leading Japanese electric vehicle battery technology company, unveiled plans in early April to invest $2 billion to open a new manufacturing facility in the Kentucky Transpark. The state-of-the-art gigafactory battery plant will produce battery cells and modules to power electric vehicles.

Toyota adding jobs in Kentucky to support electric vehicle production

Toyota Motor North America says it will add 220 jobs as part of its push to increase electric vehicle manufacturing. The engineering jobs will be added to Toyota’s Production Engineering Division. It serves as go-between for design and manufacturing. The new employees will be part of Toyota’s efforts to look for ways to make electric vehicle manufacturing more efficient. The automaker says the new jobs will be spread across Toyota’s North American manufacturing plant locations, including Kentucky.

Piston Automotive expanding Kentucky plant

Piston Automotive, a provider of automotive assemblies including electric and hybrid vehicle battery systems, will further expand its operations in Jefferson County, Ky. The $26.3 million project is expected to create 117 jobs.

TENNESSEE

Volkswagen announces 1,000 new Tennessee hires

Volkswagen announced in May it would seek to hire 1,000 new employees to add a third shift at its Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant and drive production for three VW models, including the electric ID.4. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, the March unemployment rate in Chattanooga, Tenn., is 2.9 percent, and VW already employs more than 4,000 people at the plant. As an incentive to join the team, VW said it would offer a $3,000 sign-on bonus to anyone hired between May 16 and October 31 of this year. The German automaker will use the third shift to assemble three VW models for the North American market; the Volkswagen Atlas SUV, Atlas Cross Sport, and electric ID.4. Volkswagen says the new shift will help meet customer demand for those models.

Audi could build electric vehicles at Volkswagen’s plant in Tennessee

Audi’s parent company is VW and the chances of the German automaker building EVs in Chattanooga are growing stronger every day. Audi shares the same all-electric architecture as the ID.4 model which it builds in Chattanooga.

Ford in West Tennessee: Finding the workforce for the largest project in Tennessee history

In the fall quarter, Detroit-based Ford Motor Company announced it would locate a $5.6 billion, 5,800-job electric vehicle and battery production facility in what was called the Megasite of West Tennessee but is now called Blue Oval City. A workforce will obviously be needed in an age of low fertility rates and high rates of retirements. A trained workforce ready for the assembly line, however, is what Ford is trying to achieve. This will be done through a customized curriculum for K-12 and technical college students trained to build electric trucks and batteries. In fact, ninth grade students will graduate high school when the plant opens. Tennessee lawmakers have also agreed to spend $40 million to build a Tennessee College of Applied Technology near the megasite in Haywood County to address the demand for workers. To capture Ford, Tennessee and local governments put together an $884 million incentive package. The year 2021 was one few in Tennessee or in economic development will forget. Tennessee welcomed major investments and job generation from companies such as Ford, Oracle, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Smith & Wesson.

Auto Supplier announces $8 million Tennessee plant

A Michigan manufacturer of automotive powertrain and drivetrain systems plans to establish a new facility in East Tennessee, state and company officials announced. ATC Drivetrain will invest more than $8 million in the new plant in Knoxville. Over the next five years, the company expects the project to create 218 new jobs.

TEXAS

New rare-earth magnet facility to attract hundreds of jobs to Fort Worth

A rare earth magnet factory is coming to Fort Worth, and it will attract hundreds of new jobs. Las Vegas-based MP Materials is building its new rare earth magnet factory off of Alliance Gateway Freeway in Fort Worth’s Alliance corridor. James Litinsky, the founder, chairman and CEO of MP Materials, says magnets are synonymous with modern life. “Rare earth magnets are really what will power motion, electric vehicles, wind turbines, drones, robots, robot dogs, air taxis, whatever. . .we could go on and on,” Litinsky said during the groundbreaking ceremony. The new facility will reshore 150 skilled jobs and about 1,300 indirect jobs.

Auto parts supplier relocating to Texas site

Vehicle Accessories Inc. plans to relocate 315 manufacturing jobs and its $13.5 million annual payroll from Sunnyvale, Calif., and other locations to Mesquite. The company plans to combine operations in Sunnyvale; Buffalo, N.Y.; Toronto, Ontario; and Magog, Quebec, to the new Mesquite location.  The relocation project will create 315 jobs.

WEST VIRGINIA

Battery manufacturer Sparkz to build plant in West Virginia, hire former coal workers

Battery manufacturer Sparkz has announced that it will begin construction this year of a gigafactory in West Virginia, which will initially employ 350 workers to commercialize its zero-cobalt battery. Sparkz founder and CEO Sanjiv Malhotra made the announcement at a ceremony in the state capital, Charleston, which was attended by a very diverse group of policymakers, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Electric bus manufacturer chooses South Charleston, W.Va.

Canada-based electric bus manufacturer GreenPower Motor Company will lease/purchase a 9.5-acre manufacturing facility in South Charleston, W.Va. The company will manufacture zero-emission, all-electric school buses there. The project is expected to create up to 200 jobs by the end of the year, and employment at the facility may reach up to 900 jobs when full production is reached in 24 months.

Toyota celebrates 25 years in West Virginia

Japanese automaker Toyota celebrated a major milestone — the company has operated in Buffalo, W.Va., for 25 years. Toyota makes four- and six-cylinder engines there, as well as transmissions and hybrid trans-axles.

May 2022

Auto supplier Shinhwa investing $78 million in second Alabama facility

Shinhwa Auto USA Corp. is expanding its presence in Auburn by adding a second auto parts manufacturing facility as part of a $78 million growth project that will create 42 jobs over the next three years.

 

Nissan considers third U.S. plant to meet EV demand

Nissan is considering adding a new auto plant in the U.S. to keep up with growing demand for electric vehicles, according to a top executive at the Japanese automaker. Nissan now has two auto plants in the U.S. — one in Canton, Miss., makes the Titan pickup truck and Altima sedan, among other models. The other in Smyrna, Tenn., makes the Leaf electric car, Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and other models. The third plant would not just be an added assembly line to an existing plant but a totally new facility, although it may be built as an extension of an existing plant.

 

Summit Polymers will invest $37.5 million In Kentucky

Summit Polymers will build a $37.5 million manufacturing facility in Anderson County, Ky., creating 218 full-time jobs. The Michigan-based company designs and manufactures automotive interior components.

 

Massive EV battery plant planned for Bowling Green, Ky.

Envision AESC, a Japanese electric vehicle battery technology company, unveiled plans in early April to invest $2 billion to open a new manufacturing facility in the Kentucky Transpark. The state-of-the-art gigafactory battery plant will employ 2,000 people to produce battery cells and modules to power electric vehicles.

 

Toyota expanding in the South

Toyota plans to invest $222 million at its manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Ala. The company will create a new production line for four-cylinder engines, including a hybrid electric version. The project is part of a $383 million company-wide plan that injects new investment into four U.S. manufacturing plants that support powertrain production for Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Kentucky (which will add 220 new jobs), Missouri and Tennessee are included, with the Alabama facility receiving the largest investment.

 

Hyundai pours $300 million into Montgomery plant to build EVs

Hyundai plans to start production of its first Alabama-made electric vehicles this fall, part of a $300 million expansion that will create 200 more jobs. The company recently announced that its Santa Fe Hybrid would start rolling off the assembly line in Montgomery this October. It will be the first electric vehicle the company has made in America. The plant will start production of the Electrified Genesis GV70 luxury SUV in December.

 

Georgia wins new Hyundai plant

Hyundai is building facilities dedicated to manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries in Savannah, marking Hyundai’s first EV-only plant in the U.S. The South Korean automaker will spend $5.5 billion on the new facilities and will receive an additional $1 billion investment from its suppliers. Hyundai expects production at the 2,923-acre site to begin in the first half of 2025, with construction starting in early 2023. The EV factory is set to make 300,000 vehicles per year and will add around 8,100 new jobs.

 

Auto supplier announces $8 million Tennessee plant

A Michigan manufacturer of automotive powertrain and drivetrain systems plans to establish a new facility in East Tennessee. ATC Drivetrain will invest more than $8 million in the new plant in Knoxville. Over the next five years, the company expects the project to create 218 new jobs.

 

EV supplier building $325 million plant near Statesboro, Ga.

Aspen Aerogels is building a $325 million manufacturing plant in Bulloch County that will produce special materials to prevent potentially disastrous fires in electric vehicles. The company will invest a minimum of $325 million to build a factory south of Statesboro for production of aerogel thermal insulating material used in electric vehicle batteries. Company officials expect the plant to create more than 250 advanced manufacturing jobs.

 

Volkswagen Chattanooga’s EV push to fill 1,000 new jobs

Volkswagen is holding a job fair aimed at hiring 1,000 production workers for its assembly plant in Tennessee.

 

VinFast picks North Carolina for $2 billion EV assembly plant

VinFast has selected North Carolina for its first North American automotive assembly and battery manufacturing plant. The Hanoi, Vietnam-based auto manufacturer will create 7,500 jobs and invest up to $2 billion in phase 1 of its project at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite in Chatham County. It will be North Carolina’s first car manufacturing plant.

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.