Southern Auto Corridor - Fall 2016

Amazing turnaround by the automotive industry

By 2008, the U.S. automotive industry was declining rapidly. By 2009, it had essentially collapsed. General Motors and Chrysler bankrupted and federal bailouts were needed to save tens of thousands of jobs. Since then, the automotive sector, including its retail and wholesale components, has created massive numbers of jobs. The chart shows automotive jobs in each Southern state in 2008 compared to 2015. Figures include auto assembly, auto parts supplier, auto wholesale, parts wholesale and new car dealership jobs. Source: Center for Automotive Research.                  

First layoffs we’ve seen from the automotive industry in years

In October, Ford idled Ford F-150 production at its plant in Kansas City for one week. All three shifts were affected. In Louisville, Ford laid off employees who assemble the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC for two weeks. A total of 9,000 workers were affected by the temporary layoffs. 



Hyundai is expected to announce a new facility to build its luxury models in the U.S. Pictured is the automaker’s plant in Montgomery, Ala.


Will Hyundai build new plant in Alabama?

Media property Wards Auto reported in the fall quarter that Korean automaker Hyundai plans to bring two Genesis luxury models to the U.S. for assembly. But where? Hyundai’s only U.S. plant is in Montgomery, Ala. Sister automaker Kia operates its only U.S. plant in rural West Georgia near the East Alabama border. Both plants are at full capacity and there is no space for two more lines for the Genesis models. Wards Auto wrote in the fall article that “Montgomery, where Hyundai’s current Alabama plant is located, is a likely spot.” That spot would most likely be the 1,800 acres in Montgomery across Interstate 65 from the current facility if Hyundai does decide to build two more lines.   


Honda celebrates 4 million in Alabama

In the fall quarter, Japanese automaker Honda Manufacturing of Alabama celebrated a key milestone. In October, the automaker produced its 4 millionth vehicle and V-6 engine made at its Alabama plant. Honda assembles the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV, Ridgeline pickup and Acura MDX luxury SUV at its Alabama plant.


Automotive parts suppliers spending big bucks in Alabama

Alabama’s automotive sector is booming. The three assembly plants are expanding, as is Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville. Over the past year, parts suppliers have invested nearly $1 billion in the state and over 2,500 jobs have been created.


Auto supplier to build new Alabama plant

Wheel & Truck Group plans to build a $35 million wheel assembly factory in Vance, Ala., near the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant. The Spanish company is hiring 85 workers in the project.


Brose expanding parts plant

Brose Tuscaloosa is investing $26.5 million in its auto parts plant in Vance, Ala. The door systems supplier will add 50 jobs.


MöllerTech to locate $46.3 million plant in Bibb County

MöllerTech will build a $46.3 million production plant in Bibb County. The plant will be the German auto supplier’s third location in North America, and its flagship production facility, employing about 220 people to manufacture interior parts for the next generation of Mercedes-Benz SUVs.


Polaris celebrates new Alabama vehicle plant

A recent ceremony served as the symbolic opening for Polaris Industries’ new Alabama manufacturing facility, a $140 million greenfield plant. Employment at the Alabama factory, which has around 500 workers, is expected to reach 1,700. Minnesota-based Polaris announced plans for the Alabama plant early last year and launched Alabama production of its Ranger off-road vehicles and Slingshot three-wheeled roadsters in late spring and summer.


Fehrer Automotive expanding in Etowah County

Fehrer’s $10 million expansion is expected to bring about 150 new jobs to Etowah County. The company makes automotive seating components.



In the fall quarter, Mercedes-Benz broke ground on its $93 million Sandy Springs, Ga., headquarters.


Mercedes-Benz USA breaks ground on new Atlanta HQ

In the fall quarter, Mercedes-Benz broke ground on its $93 million Sandy Springs, Ga., headquarters. The automaker is relocating its North American headquarters to metro Atlanta from New Jersey. The 200,000-square-foot facility will house up to 1,000 workers and will be completed in the second quarter of 2018. Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, stated that the company was attracted to Atlanta because of the workforce, transportation infrastructure and quality of life. Mercedes operates its only U.S. plant just over 200 miles to the west on Interstate 20 in Vance, Ala. Mercedes is the latest in a series of automotive industry headquarters to call the South home, joining Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and Porsche to name a few.


GM adding space in Atlanta area

General Motors is adding an additional 250,000 square feet of space in north Atlanta. The informational technology unit will add several hundred jobs.



A $150 million, 225,000-square-foot automotive sheet plant opened recently in Kentucky. The joint venture between Netherlands-based Constellium and Japan-based UACJ began construction on the plant in 2014 in Bowling Green.


Giant Kentucky automotive sheet plant opens

A $150 million, 225,000-square-foot automotive sheet plant opened recently in Kentucky. The joint venture between Netherlands-based Constellium and Japan-based UACJ began construction on the plant in 2014 in the Kentucky Transpark. The plant will employ 65 workers and is designed to allow for expansion in the future. According to Constellium, automotive aluminum body sheet demand in North America alone is projected to double from 500,000 metric tons in 2015 to 1 million metric tons  by 2020.


South African auto supplier sets up shop in Henderson County

Hansens Aluminum LLC is locating an aluminum extrusion facility in Henderson. The company, which will supply automakers in the U.S. and Mexico, is investing $18.4 million in the project that will create 90 jobs.


Gibbs Die Casting expanding in Henderson

Gibbs Die Casting, a supplier of innovative, high-quality aluminum die cast components and assemblies, will expand its North American Manufacturing Complex in Henderson with a $10 million investment projected to create 46 full-time jobs.


Auto parts manufacturer locating plant in rural Kentucky

MACA Plastics, a maker of components for the automotive and medical industries, is locating a new plant in Maysville, Ky. The $7.9 million investment will create 156 jobs.


Kentucky’s Bed Wood and Parts to expand, add 42 jobs

Bed Wood and Parts, an automotive aftermarket supplier of domestic and exotic wood bed kits for pickup trucks, plans a $3.7 million expansion of its operation near Hopkinsville, Ky., a project expected to create 42 full-time jobs.


Auto supplier to add 134 jobs in Versailles, Ky.

Yokohama Industries, a supplier of fluid conveying products and adhesives for the automotive industry, plans to add 134 jobs at its facility in central Kentucky.



In October, Toyota celebrated its fifth year of Corolla model assembly at its plant in Blue Springs, Miss.


Continental breaks ground on $1.45 billion Mississippi plant

In the fall quarter, German tire manufacturer Continental AG broke ground on its $1.45 billion tire plant in Clinton, Miss. State and local governments are offering up to $650 million in incentives to the company that will hire 2,500 at the facility.


Toyota marks five years of production in Mississippi

In October, Toyota celebrated its fifth year of Corolla model assembly at its plant in Blue Springs, Miss. Toyota has invested more than $1 billion in the plant in five years, which houses about 2,000 workers.


FEUER opens first U.S. plant in Mississippi

FEUER, a manufacturer of powertrains for the automotive industry based in Nordhausen, Germany, officially opened its first U.S. plant and headquarters in Tunica County, Miss., in the fall quarter. The company will produce crankshafts at the $140 million facility. The project will create 300 jobs.



Missouri plant to expand, add 135 jobs

Dana Light Axel Products, a company that manufactures parts for major automakers, is planning to invest $39 million in machinery and equipment to add a new production line at its Boone County facility. The company said the expansion will create 135 new jobs over the next few years.



Textile manufacturer to build North Carolina plant

King Charles Industries plans to build a $12.5 million textile plant in Anson County, N.C. The company will make knit fabrics for the automotive and medical industries. The deal will create 100 jobs.



Japanese company investing $600 million in South Carolina

Japan-based Teijin Ltd. announced plans in the fall quarter to build a carbon fiber plant on 440 acres in Greenwood, S.C. The company will manufacture carbon fiber to supply the automotive and aerospace industries. The $600 million project will create 220 jobs.


Magna Seating to set up new plant

Canada-based Magna Seating will set up shop in a new 230,000-square-foot facility it will build in Spartanburg County, S.C. The $60 million automotive seat plant will house 250 workers. 


350 more Michelin men in South Carolina

Michelin North America, which already operates seven tire manufacturing plants in South Carolina, is expanding again. Michelin is adding a new distribution center in Spartanburg that will create 350 jobs. The company has its North American headquarters in Greenville, and announced recently that it’s investing more than $270 million in the new distribution center.


EuWe Group boosts investment in Anderson County

A BMW supplier will “double down” its investment in Anderson County. EuWe Eugen Wexler US Plastics Inc., the American subsidiary of Germany-based EuWe Group, will invest an additional $5 million to expand its facility and create 29 jobs during the next five years.


Italian manufacturer sets up shop in South Carolina

Ritrama North America, a manufacturer of coatings and adhesives for the automotive and packaging industries, is investing $85 million in a 350,000-square-foot facility in Spartanburg County. The deal will create 150 jobs.


International Mold Corporation establishing first South Carolina operation

International Mold Corporation, a Michigan-based aluminum design and build company, is establishing a new manufacturing operation in Spartanburg County. The project is expected to bring $6.2 million in new investment and create 60 new jobs.


German subsidiary coming to Berkeley County

A manufacturer of metal precision parts and components for the automotive industry, stoba, plans to build a new plant in Berkeley County, S.C.. The development is expected to bring $7.7 million in capital investment and create 61 new jobs.



Volkswagen’s largest-ever crossover SUV will be called the Atlas. The seven-passenger sport utility vehicle will be built at VW’s Chattanooga plant and is expected to launch in the spring of next year.


Ernst & Young study shows VW supports almost 17,000 jobs in Tennessee

A new study by Ernst & Young showed that Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga was responsible for 16,794 direct and indirect jobs in Tennessee in 2015. Wages for those jobs topped $1 billion, and gross economic output totaled $7.8 billion in 2015. The German automaker’s plant is expected to house 3,500 workers in April of 2017, shortly after VW’s new SUV begins full production.


Chattanooga top candidate for VW electric vehicle

Volkswagen announced in the fall quarter it plans to assemble its first electric vehicle in North America starting in 2021. The German automaker’s Chattanooga plant is considered the front-runner for the zero-emissions vehicle. VW also operates plants in Mexico.


Volkswagen’s new made-in-USA crossover has a name!

Volkswagen’s largest-ever crossover SUV will be called the Atlas. The seven-passenger sport utility vehicle will be built at VW’s Chattanooga plant, and is expected to launch in the spring of next year. By then, the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga will house about 3,500 employees, the most ever. The new SUV being made in Tennessee will be exported worldwide. The VW Atlas model is part of Volkswagen’s $900 million expansion of its Chattanooga plant.


GM adding 650 jobs at Tennessee plant

General Motors is adding a third shift and 650 jobs at its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. The company said the new overnight shift will boost assembly of the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 models.


Auto supplier to expand in Athens, Tenn.

E & E Manufacturing of Tennessee, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, will expand its manufacturing facility in Athens. The automotive components manufacturer will invest $23.5 million and create 123 jobs in McMinn County. The plant produces stamped and welded parts for a number of car manufacturers.


Ficosa opens plant in rural Tennessee

Ficosa, a provider of vision and safety products for the automotive industry, has opened its new plant in Cookeville, Tenn. The company is investing $50 million and hiring 500 workers who will produce rear view mirrors.


Kasai opens North American HQ in Murfreesboro

Kasai held a grand opening ceremony for its new North American headquarters last month in Murfreesboro. In late 2014, the Japanese-based company, which supplies Nissan and other automotive companies, announced plans to invest $13.4 million and add 250 jobs in Rutherford County.



Toyota begins moving employees to Texas

Toyota has been moving about 100 employees a month from California to Plano, Texas, site of its new North American headquarters. The relocated employees are working in temporary space as construction continues on the new headquarters campus. More than 4,000 employees will be housed at the new headquarters in Plano, and Toyota believes 3,000 will relocate from three former hubs in California, Kentucky and New York. Another 1,000 will be hired from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The campus is being built to accommodate up to 6,500 employees. 

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