April 2024

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to SouthernBusiness.com. For all projects announced in the South and more, go to SouthernBusiness.com and SB-D.com. For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to SouthernAutoCorridor.com.

Alabama

Alabama claims No. 1 spot last year for auto-exporting states for the first time

Alabama has become the nation’s No. 1 auto-exporting state, with international vehicle shipments surging past $11.2 billion in 2023 to overtake long-time leader South Carolina, according to new trade data.

Alabama’s auto exports have climbed 45% in value since 2021, when they totaled $7.7 billion, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Alabama’s auto industry has become an exporting powerhouse, with vehicles produced in the state finding markets around the world,” said Ellen McNair, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

While Alabama’s auto exports have been climbing, South Carolina’s have remained steady at just over $10 billion a year since 2021, the data indicate. Other top auto-exporting states include Michigan, California and Texas.

Alabama auto exports landed in 78 countries in 2023, with major trading partners Germany, China and Canada being the leading destinations, according to Commerce data.

Georgia

Imola Automotive USA establishing a plant in Fort Valley, Ga.

The Italian electric car manufacturer will break ground in the third quarter of 2024, eventually employing 7,500 people.

Kentucky

North American Stainless to celebrate $244 million Carroll County, Ky. expansion Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials and leadership from North American Stainless (NAS) and its parent company, Spain-based Acerinox, to celebrate the one-year mark since the company announced a $244 million expansion at its Carroll County facility, a project creating 70 full-time jobs. The expansion to the company’s 4.4 million-square-foot Ghent facility consists of a new cold rolling mill, new roll grinders, extensive upgrades of anneal and pickling lines to support the new rolling mill, a new temper mill and the expansion of the melt shop building.

Mississippi

Owl’s Head Alloys locating aluminum processing plant in West Point, Miss.

The Bowling Green, Ky.-based company will invest $29 million and create 68 new jobs.

South Carolina

Scout Motors to be revived in South Carolina

We are seeing just about every conceivable combination there are right now as automakers making a bee-line to electrification. One such effort at taking a brand that was built by International Harvester decades ago is reviving the old Scout brand, which many consider the first SUV. Volkswagen and others have invested in Scout Motors and plan a $2 billion factory capable of making up to 200,000 of the iconic vehicles in South Carolina. Reports state that Scout Motors will build its factory in Blythewood about 20 miles north of Columbia, which will ultimately employ 4,000 people, on 1,600 acres right in the middle of the developing “battery belt.” The plant itself will occupy 1,100 acres of that property.

AESC is spending over $3 billion in South Carolina

AESC, a world-leading battery technology company, announced the expansion of its lithium-ion electric vehicle battery manufacturing operations in Florence County, S.C. The company’s $1.5 billion investment will create 1,080 new jobs. This investment follows AESC’s initial announcement in December 2022 and expansion announcement in December 2023, resulting in a total investment of $3.12 billion and supporting 2,700 new jobs across the local community.

In 2022, the company announced a multi-year partnership with BMW to supply technology-leading battery cells to be used in the next generation electric vehicle models produced at Plant Spartanburg. AESC’s latest expansion will extend the partnership to additionally provide electric vehicle battery components for BMW Group’s Mexico Assembly Operations.

Tennessee

Construction progress at Ford’s BlueOval City near Memphis

Work on West Tennessee’s BlueOval City is entering a new phase.

Last year, Ford hit peak construction employment in Q3 2023, matching the timing given years ago when Ford first came to town. In fact, when plant manager Kel Kearns first gave that timeline, BlueOval City was still an empty field.

Months later, it was an active construction site about 50% done — with plenty of mud still around — when Ford CEO Jim Farley visited in March 2023. The company has spent billions getting construction and supplies and is now entering the installation phase.

As of April, machinery is being installed in BlueOval City’s paint shop, vehicle assembly, and stamping areas. That means work now moves inside the massive facilities on campus, with literal tons of equipment installed in a way that has been planned for months to ensure top-level efficiency.

Now, as the campus begins installing machines, that would be followed by new workers, then Ford starts producing trucks to be delivered to customers in 2026.

Ford doubling down on EVs, hybrids at BlueOval City’s T3 gets release window

Ford Motor Co. announced that it is embracing electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles for its Ford Blue division. By the end of the decade, it plans to offer hybrid powertrains on every model.

March 2024

Alabama

Alabama sets record for exports

For the second consecutive year, Alabama has set a new value record for exports with $27.4 billion. Overseas shipments of Alabama-made vehicles, aerospace parts, minerals and metals, as well as other products, rose more than 6 percent from the 2022 mark of $25.5 billion, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Looking forward, the potential for greater export growth is there, and we are already exploring new and expanding markets for Alabama companies,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Ellen McNair, who is succeeding Greg Canfield in that role.

 

New aluminum project forges ahead in South Alabama, even though costs have risen 60 percent

Novelis is building a monster of an aluminum production plant in North Baldwin County, Ala. The site is at the former South Alabama Megasite. Initially, the project was to cost a tad over $2.5 billion. Now, it’s estimated the plant, which will take up much of the 3,000-acre site, will cost just over $4 billion to build. Steve Fisher, CEO of Novelis, said that the facility will be a “true plant of the future,” adding “decades” to the lifetime of the plant. When announced, the facility was to house 1,000 employees. According to Fisher, automotive and beverage contracts have already been secured, guaranteeing the factory will be profitable well into the future.

 

Toyota begins production on new engine line in Huntsville, Ala.

Toyota Alabama announced that it has begun production of its i-FORCE 2.4-liter turbo engine line at its Huntsville engine plant, culminating a $222 million corporate investment in the project. The 2,000-employee plant will provide powertrains for the new Tacoma pickup.

 

Montgomery’s Hyundai workers announce union drive; UAW eyes Tesla, VW and Mercedes

Workers at a Hyundai plant in Montgomery have launched a union drive, the second announced organization effort at a major Alabama automotive manufacturer in the last month. The other is at the state’s Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County. That plant has fended off union efforts several times in its 26-year history. The United Auto Workers (UAW) claimed in the winter quarter that 30 percent of workers at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery had signed union cards.

 

Georgia

Hyundai supplier to create 200 jobs in Georgia

Doowon Climate Control America will build a new plant near Metter in Candler County, Ga. The $30 million investment will create 200 new jobs. Gov. Brian Kemp said that Georgia’s expanding EV industry is benefiting rural corners of the state. “In fiscal year 2023, alone, 82 percent of new jobs created and more than $20 billion of investments went to communities outside the metro Atlanta area,” Kemp said in a news release.

 

Kentucky

Toyota boosts investment to $1.3 billion for Kentucky battery production

The automotive leader announced the investment in their flagship Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) facility in Georgetown, cementing its commitment to being a long-term employer and establishing the automotive plant as a central part of Toyota’s electrification strategy. The company plans on producing an all-new, three-row battery electric SUV. With a total investment of $10 billion, TMMK is Toyota’s largest production facility globally, having produced 12 million vehicles including the Camry, America’s best-selling sedan.

 

Mississippi

Marshall County wins billion-dollar investment

A joint venture among Accelera by Cummins, Daimler Trucks & Buses and PACCAR have chosen Marshall County, Miss., for a $1.9 billion electric battery cell production plant. The project will create 2,000 jobs. Accelera, Daimler Truck and PACCAR each own 30 percent of, and jointly control, the venture. EVE Energy will serve as the technology partner with 10 percent ownership. The joint venture aims to accelerate and localize battery cell production and the battery supply chain in the U.S. The company will manufacture battery cells for electric commercial vehicles and industrial applications, creating quality manufacturing jobs in the growing clean technology sector.

 

North Carolina

Cummins plans $580 million investment in Nash County

The engine and generator manufacturer will create 80 jobs in Eastern North Carolina with its investment in new equipment and upgrading its assembly line “for next generation products.”

 

Fujihatsu & Toyotsu Battery Components, North Carolina to invest $60 million near Toyota plant in Randolph County

The venture will produce prismatic aluminum cell cases and cell covers with discharge values. The Toyota supplier will create 133 jobs.

 

Oklahoma

Stardust Power selects Muskogee, Okla., to build battery-grade lithium refinery

 The company will invest more than $1 billion in the lithium refinery.

 

South Carolina

Tesla to establish first South Carolina facility in Greenville County

 The electric car company plans to lease 251,100 square feet to create a regional parts distribution facility.

 

Tennessee

LG Chem signs $19 billion deal with GM

With construction of LG Chem’s $3.2 billion factory in Clarksville, the largest foreign investment in Tennessee history, the South Korean battery maker has agreed to provide GM with battery materials able to power 5 million all-electric vehicles with a 300-mile range.

 

Texas

Elon Musk wants to move Tesla, SpaceX incorporation to Texas

The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive said the company will hold a shareholder vote to decide whether to incorporate in the Lone Star State.

 

Tesla to occupy 1 million square feet in Kyle, Texas

EV automaker and Austin-headquartered Tesla is moving forward with a warehouse and light assembly facility in Kyle. No word on jobs.

 

Vehicle parts manufacturer for Tesla to open plant in Austin metro

US Farathane, parts supplier to Tesla’s Austin factory, announced in the winter it will open a plant in North Austin. The project will create 100 jobs.

 

Norwegian EV parts supplier set to spend millions, hire hundreds in Mesquite, Texas

Hexagon Purus ASA, which makes batteries and systems for electric vehicles, is moving into existing facilities in Mesquite. The project will create 250 jobs.

 

Global automotive parts supplier to invest $100 million north of Austin

Hanwha Advanced Materials, a massive global automotive parts supplier is investing $100 million and hiring hundreds as it sets up shop in Williamson County, north of Austin. The company will build its new plant in Georgetown.

Summer 2023 News

Georgia has received $17.5 billion in investment by Korean firms since 2020

Supporting 23,000 total jobs in the state, Korean companies like Kia, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group and others are continuing to invest.

$42.7 expansion planned by BorgWarner Inc. in Oconee County, S.C.

As part of its “Charging Forward” initiative, the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automotive supplier will create 122 new jobs in its plans to upgrade its facility in Seneca to integrate new EV battery systems.

EV car maker Rivian to invest $10 million in Bullitt County, Kentucky

The planned remanufacturing facility in Shepherdsville will create 218 high-paying jobs, continuing the EV industries’ growth in the state.

Westwater Resources plans $202 million graphite plant in Alabama

The Coosa County plant will supply material for EV battery manufacturer SK On.

Telsa breaks ground on its in-house lithium refinery near Robstown, Texas

A major investment by Tesla, the plant will produce battery-grade lithium and manufacture battery materials. The first of its kind in North America, the facility will adopt an industrial refining method using acid-free lithium routes.

Volkswagen plans to hire 500 workers in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The automaker will be hiring for its manufacturing plant in Hamilton County, raising its employee number to 5,500. The Chattanooga facility manufactures the electric ID.4 SUV as well as the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs.

Hanon Systems to build auto parts factory near Hyundai Motor Group’s coastal Georgia EV plant

The Korean auto parts maker will invest $40 million and employ 160 people in its new facility in Bulloch County, Ga. The future $5.54 billion Hyundai EV plant is the largest economic development project in state history.

Heyco Werk USA Inc. to expand in Emporia, Va.

The automotive parts manufacturer will invest $5.4 million and create 21 jobs with its expansion in Greenville County. The company produces plastic molder parts for the auto industry, specifically meeting needs for the BMW plant in South Carolina.

Toyota invests an additional $2.1 billion in North Carolina

The automaker’s latest investment in its EV battery plant near Greensboro brings the total investment there to nearly $6 billion. The company has yet to announce employment numbers, but expects to hire a similar number to the expansion last year, which grew job numbers by about 350.

Hyundai, LG to build $4.3 billion EV battery plant in Georgia

The electric vehicle battery plant near Savannah in Bryan County will become the second battery plant Hyundai is building in the state. The project is a part of its previously announced, $5.5 billion plant in Bryan County, which will bring 8,100 jobs.

Steel Dynamics breaks ground on $2.5 billion aluminum factory in Mississippi

The Lowndes County plant was announced by Golden Triangle CEO Joe Max Higgins. The mill will produce nearly 650,000 tons of finished product for the beverage packaging, automotive and alloy industry.  

SK Signet opens EV charger manufacturing facility in Plano, Texas

The company’s ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the first SK Signet manufacturing facility located in the U.S. The facility plans to produce more than 10,000 chargers for electric vehicles and is expected to bring 183 jobs by 2026.

INFAC North America plans expansion in Taylor County, Ky.

The automotive industry manufacturer will break ground in Campbellsville as the company invests $53 million. The expansion will create 220 jobs. This will mark the second expansion by the company at their facility in Campbellsville since starting operations in 2008.

GM will invest $500 million in Texas plant

GM’s investment will prepare its Arlington, Texas facility to produce its next generation of SUVs. The investment confirms that the company plans to continue investment in its traditionally powered vehicles in preparation for its emerging EV business.