Southern Auto Corridor - Winter 2017

Auto industry sets U.S. sales record

Last year was the seventh consecutive year of growth in car sales. In the U.S., 17.55 million cars and light trucks were sold, an industry record.


Automotive parts industry has grown substantially since 2012

A new study by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) shows that employment in the auto parts manufacturing sector has grown by 19 percent since 2012. More than 871,000 Americans are employed by parts manufacturers in this country. In addition, motor vehicle parts manufacturing contributes $270 billion in employee compensation in the U.S., up 22 percent from 2012.


South Korean automakers to spend $3.1 billion in the U.S.

Officials with Korean automakers’ Hyundai Motor Co. and KIA Motors Corp. said in the winter quarter they will collectively spend $3.1 billion in the U.S. in the next five years. The investment is more than the $2.1 billion the two automakers spent in the U.S. in the last five years. Hyundai operates its only U.S. plant in Montgomery, Ala., and KIA operates its only U.S. plant in West Point, Ga., just 81 miles from the Hyundai plant. The companies are also considering constructing a new assembly facility in the U.S. to build their luxury brands, which are currently being imported from Asia.


GM to spend an additional $1 billion on U.S. plants

General Motors has announced it will spend an additional $1 billion on U.S. manufacturing plants. . .a move the automaker estimated would add or retain 1,500 jobs. The company will also move 450 jobs from GM supplier plants in Mexico back to the U.S. In addition, GM is adding 5,000 jobs to its finance and technology operations. Factories to be affected will be announced throughout the year.


Toyota plans to invest $10 billion in U.S. over five years

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years — the same as in the previous five years — to meet demand and to upgrade plants to build more fuel-efficient models according to North America CEO Jim Lentz.



Alabama’s auto industry sets assembly record

Alabama’s three automotive assembly plants set a record in calendar year 2016 with 1,048,597 cars, vans and SUVs assembled. It was the second year in a row that the three automakers combined to produce over 1 million vehicles.


Bell cow of Alabama’s automotive industry turns 20

In February 1997, the first M-Class SUV rolled off the assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala. Since that day 20 years ago, Alabama’s automotive industry captured two more assembly plants — Hyundai in Montgomery and Honda in Lincoln, Ala. Also, Toyota built a huge engine plant in Huntsville and hundreds of automotive suppliers now call Alabama home. Mercedes has invested almost $5 billion in its plant in Alabama to date. The three automakers in the state assembled more than 1 million cars, trucks and SUVs in 2016.


Toyota’s Alabama engine plant sees record production

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama saw record growth at its engine plant in Huntsville. The workers at the facility built 702,014 engines in calendar year 2016, an 11 percent increase over 2015.


Alabama auto production hits 10 million mark

In 2016, Alabama’s cumulative auto production surpassed the 10 million mark. The state is home to assembly plants operated by Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai.


Toyota sets milestone at Alabama plant

In February, the 5 millionth engine was produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing’s plant in Huntsville. The facility has been open for less than 16 years. The Huntsville factory is the only Toyota engine plant in the world where V6, V8 and 4-cylinder engines are assembled under one roof.


Auto supplier picks Alabama for new plant

Spain-based Grupo Antolin is investing over $10 million to establish a plant in Jefferson County, Ala., near Birmingham. The parts supplier has 161 production plants worldwide. The new Alabama plant will house 150 workers.


Alabama auto parts supplier adding 100 jobs

Nemak Alabama, a maker of aluminum engine heads and cylinders, is expanding its plant in Sylacauga, Ala. The company is adding 100 jobs.



Big River Steel starts production in Arkansas

At $1.3 billion, the new Big River Steel plant in East Arkansas is the largest-ever investment in the state. The plant, which makes automotive-grade steel, produced 63,000 tons of hot rolled steel in January, its first month in business. The plant is the world’s first smart mill, using artificial intelligence and algorithms to allow the plant to automatically correct any production deficiencies. The mill is also the only one of its kind to receive LEED certification. Most of the steel made there is safety steel that is used in automobile interiors.



Huhoco Group investing in new Georgia plant

The Germany-based Huhoco Group is investing $24 million and creating 200 jobs as it builds a new plant in Bartow County, Ga. The company refines metal products for the automotive and construction industry. 



Right-to-work passes

Kentucky adopted right-to-work legislation in the winter quarter. The measure gives workers the choice to not pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Kentucky became the 27th right-to-work state.


Auto parts supplier investing in its Kentucky plant

Windshield manufacturer Pilkington North America is investing $7.5 million in manufacturing and technology upgrades at its plant in Versailles, Ky. 


Asahi plans $40 million expansion, 50 jobs

Asahi Bluegrass Forge Corporation plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Richmond, Ky. Asahi, which specializes in press forging for the automotive industry, producing gears, bearings and joints and transmission parts, would create 50 jobs.


Auto manufacturer adding 100 jobs in western Kentucky

Kayser Automotive Systems is expanding into a facility next door to its current plant in Fulton, Ky. The company will add 100 jobs as part of a $26 million investment to make mechanical and passenger-cabin auto parts.


Crankshaft maker invests $47 million in Kentucky

International Crankshaft is expanding its plant in Georgetown, Ky., the location of one of Toyota’s largest assembly plants. The company is investing $47.6 million to construct a new building and install new equipment. The project will create 107 jobs.



Elio Motors announces another production delay

Shreveport-based Elio Motors has delayed initial production of its three-wheel vehicle from late 2017 to 2018. The startup small car company still needs about $300 million to get up and running.


Hyundai subsidiary to take over part of former GM plant in Shreveport

Glovis America, a subsidiary of South Korea-based Hyundai, will take 125,000 square feet of space in the former General Motors plant in Shreveport, La. The company will use it as a distribution center and a parts aftermarket for imported vehicles. Glovis will outfit imported vehicles with equipment and exterior upgrades such as security systems, sunroofs and additional electronics. The project will create 400 jobs.



GreenTech Auto closes its factory in Mississippi

Electric car startup GreenTech Automotive has shut down its factory in Tunica County. After starts and stops, the plant opened in the Delta in 2014, first reporting it would make a small two-seat electric car called MyCar. GreenTech later struck a deal with a Chinese automaker to develop an electric car based on an existing gasoline model.



Missouri becomes last Southern state to pass right-to-work legislation

In the winter quarter, Missouri became the 28th state to bar mandatory union fees and dues from nonmembers. Passing the measure means that now all Southern states are right-to-work.



New, massive, dual-rail North Carolina megasite looks for certification

Called the Moncure Megasite, the dual-rail (CSX and Norfolk Southern) site near the convergence of Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Wake Counties, is located just 25 miles southwest of Raleigh. The site has doubled in size to 2,285 acres, and many consider it the No. 1 site in the South for a large manufacturing operation such as automotive assembly. Officials with the megasite expect state certification later this year.


Automotive facility expanding in North Carolina

Keihin Carolina System Technology, a company that assembles and tests electrical components for Honda, is expanding its operations in Edgecombe County, N.C. The plant, which is located in Tarboro, will see an investment of $13 million with the addition of 42 jobs to the 400 currently employed there.


German auto supplier invests in North Carolina

Kaco USA, a Germany-based manufacturer of sealing solutions for the automotive industry, will expand its facility in Lincolnton, N.C. The company is investing $8.4 million and adding 100 workers in the deal.


Bridgestone makes additional $180 million investment in Wilson, N.C.

A year after Tennessee-based Bridgestone America Tire Operations announced a five-year, $164 million investment in its Wilson facility, the company announced that it would be making an additional investment of $180 million over the next 10 years at the site. The expansion will include 16 new jobs as production gets underway in the fall of 2018.


After incentive approval, GKN Driveline to create 302 jobs in North Carolina

The auto parts manufacturer will expand four of its plants after North Carolina economic development leaders approved $3 million in incentives over the next several years. The company plans to invest $179 million at plants in Alamance, Catawba, Lee and Person counties.



BMW sets unit record at South Carolina plant

German automaker BMW recorded its largest annual production total in calendar year 2016 at its plant in Greer, S.C. The plant produced 411,171 X models in 2016. Of those, the company exported 287,700 vehicles last year.


India-based Volvo supplier setting up shop in Dorchester County

Sundaram-Clayton, an India-based maker of aluminum cast products for the automotive industry, is building a new plant near the Volvo facility that is under construction in Berkeley County, S.C. The company will invest $50 million in the plant and hire 130. The facility will be operational in late 2018.


Auto supplier expands in Aiken County

The Carlstar Group, a manufacturer of specialty wheels and tires, is expanding its facility for more capacity in Aiken County. The $6.9 million project will create 43 new jobs.


Forklift manufacturer signs deal with Volvo, will expand in Summerville

Forklift maker Kion North America is investing $5.7 million in its plant in Dorchester County, near Charleston. The expansion is related to a contract with Volvo, which is building an assembly plant in nearby Berkeley County, S.C. The project will create 50 jobs.


South Carolina adds manufacturing jobs for fifth consecutive year

The state of South Carolina added 2,030 manufacturing jobs from September 2015 to September 2016, according to Manufacturers News. Automotive OEM and parts suppliers accounted for 1,454 of those jobs. It was the fifth straight year the Palmetto State added manufacturing jobs. The state is home to 4,629 manufacturers employing over 270,000 workers. Manufacturing jobs in the state have grown by 7.4 percent since September 2011.


Lear Corporation expands manufacturing in South Carolina

Lear Corporation, a supplier of automotive seating, is expanding its existing operations with more than $7.7 million in new capital investment in Spartanburg County. The expansion will launch the automotive seating programs for South Carolina’s Volvo and BMW assembly plants.


Proterra to triple production in Greenville

Electric bus maker Proterra plans to triple production at its Greenville facility in 2017, thanks to a $140 million infusion of cash. The new investment should boost Proterra’s 165-employee workforce in Greenville by 25 jobs.


Tire industry supplier Evonik to build plant in South Carolina

Evonik Industries will build a $120 million plant near Charleston. The project will create 55 new jobs.


Leading automotive supplier constructing new manufacturing plant in South Carolina

Magna International is building a new automotive seat manufacturing plant in Spartanburg County. The company will invest $29 million and create 480 new jobs.


Auto parts maker expanding in Laurens County

Fukoku America, a manufacturer of rubber and plastic automotive products, is expanding in Laurens County, S.C. The company, which is the largest producer of wiper blade rubber in the world, is investing $13.9 million and adding 65 jobs in the deal.



GM investing $27 million in its Tennessee plant for vehicles headed to Australia

General Motors is investing $27 million so its workers can assemble the Holden Acadia, a right-hand driving SUV that will be exported to Australia. The additional work will retain 215 jobs at the plant.


Hankook Tire to complete Tennessee plant; to hire 1,200

South Korean tire maker Hankook will complete its new factory in Clarksville, Tenn., later this year. The plant will meet growing demand boosted by increased sales of vehicles made by Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala., and Kia in West Point, Ga. Hankook officials said they expect up to 1,200 workers will be housed at the Nashville area plant by the end of the year.


LKQ Corporation plans major expansion in Nashville

LKQ Corporation, a distributor of specialty parts to repair and accessorize autos and other vehicles, will expand its regional headquarters in Davidson County, Tenn., and expects to create 150 jobs.



Corpus Christi home to new $230 million plant

Chemours, a maker of a new environmentally friendly refrigerant for automobile air conditioners, broke ground in the winter quarter on a $230 million plant in Corpus Christi.


Tire company makes hub expansion in Grand Prairie

Continental Tires has decided to expand its North Texas distribution hub in Grand Prairie, bringing the total footprint of the building to more than 1 million square feet of industrial space.


Automaker GM will expand in-house finance company

The $35 million investment at GM Financial will bring 1,300 new jobs to its Arlington campus. The addition of 250,000 square feet of new office space will allow the company to surpass 4,000 employees. 

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