SouthernAutoCorridor.com News - Spring 2017

Facts about today’s auto industry

- The average age of vehicles in the U.S. is a record 11.6 years.

- The average length of ownership is almost seven years.

- The average price of a new vehicle is $34,342.

- The average price of a compact SUV is $28,395.

- The average price of a full-size pickup is $45,252.

- The average price of a full-size SUV is $60,670.

- Generation X members account for 25 percent of new car purchases.

- Baby boomers account for 36 percent of new car purchases.

- Millennials account for 29 percent of new car purchases.

 

Great Wall Motor to build North American plant

In May, the CEO of China’s Great Wall Motor Company said that the company is searching in Mexico and the U.S. for sites to build a new assembly plant. Great Wall is China’s largest SUV and pickup truck manufacturer. Officials with the company told Reuters that the site choice will depend on trade issues among the U.S., Mexico and China.

 

Industrial robot purchases in the U.S. will rise by 300 percent in nine years

The number of robots used in the manufacturing process will jump by nearly 300 percent in less than a decade according to ABI Research. In 2016, 40 percent more robots were sold than in 2013, says the Robotic Industries Association. And, according to the National Economic Research Bureau, for every new industrial robot sold and installed into the workforce, six jobs on average were eliminated. Last year, the U.S. automotive industry accounted for 70 percent of all robots sold in North America. According to Forrester Research’s Future of Jobs report released in April, automation and robotics will displace 24.7 million jobs by 2027. At the same time, however, the new technology will create 15 million jobs, leading to a net loss of almost 10 million jobs.

 

Fifteen months after the groundbreaking, the new $1.3 billion, 1.3 million-square-foot Mercedes-Benz body shop at its plant in Vance, Ala., is nearing completion.ALABAMA

Mercedes’ big Alabama expansion finishing up

Fifteen months after the groundbreaking, the new $1.3 billion, 1.3 million-square-foot Mercedes-Benz body shop at its plant in Vance, Ala., is nearing completion. Most of the construction is finished and state-of-the-art equipment is being installed before the shop can be operational sometime next year. When completed, nearly 1,000 robots will help assemble 300,000 vehicles a year. Driverless, auto-guided vehicles will use 36,000 magnets that have been installed in the floor of the body shop to deliver components to each workstation. The magnets will replace traditional conveyor belts that typically move parts and vehicles through the shop.

 

Honda to expand Alabama plant

Honda once again plans to expand its Alabama factory to take advantage of car buyers’ demand for larger vehicles. The Japanese automaker will invest $85 million to expand its Lincoln, Ala., plant by next year. The report also indicated that the Talladega County Commission approved tax incentives for the project last week. Honda has invested more than $750 million in the plant since 2011, including a $71.4 million engine assembly facility that opened in 2015.

 

Auto parts supplier creating 100 jobs with major expansion in Alabama

Auto parts supplier Hanwha Advanced Materials America is investing once again in its Opelika, Ala., plant. The Seoul, South Korea-based manufacturer plans to invest nearly $20 million into its factory with 100 new jobs being generated over three years. The parts supplier will employ more than 400 people when the dust settles, with its total investment in the Opelika plant rising to nearly $80 million since opening there in 2005.

 

American Metals Group bringing 80 jobs to Childersburg

American Metals Group is starting up in Childersburg with a $5.3 million investment, and looking to bring about 80 jobs. The company manufactures cold drawn steel bars for the automotive, construction and energy industries.

 

ARKANSAS

Hino adds production line in Marion

Hino Motors Manufacturing, a division of Toyota, has started a new production line at its plant in Marion, Ark. The company is now producing rear axles and other components for the Toyota Tacoma. Over the last few years, Hino has invested more than $280 million in the plant that also produces suspension components, stampings and frames for a variety of Toyota models.

 

Jaxport, one of the leading vehicle import points on the East Coast, is now the Southeast distribution point for the mid-size Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan.FLORIDA

Jacksonville port lands new Alfa Romeo Giulia

Jaxport, one of the leading vehicle import points on the East Coast, is now the Southeast distribution point for the mid-size Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan. The lineup includes the 280-horsepower Giulia, the Giulia Ti and the 505-horsepower Giulia Quadrifoglio.

 

GEORGIA

Kia rolls out one-millionth Sorento model at Georgia plant

In the spring quarter, Kia Motors Manufacturing in Georgia celebrated the assembly of its West Point plant’s one-millionth Sorento model. KMMG launched production of the Sorento in November 2009. The $1.1 billion plant supports more than 15,000 jobs in West Georgia.

 

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Consul General of Japan from Nashville Masami Kinefuchi and TMMK President Wil James were together for the announcement in the spring quarter that Toyota will invest $1.3 billion in its plant in Georgetown, Ky.KENTUCKY

Toyota’s big Kentucky expansion will be felt in adjoining states

Toyota’s April announcement of a massive retooling of its largest assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky., will most certainly positively transform the Kentucky economy. The $1.3 billion expansion will also affect states around the Commonwealth, particularly suppliers in Tennessee, which sits between Toyota plants in Kentucky and Mississippi. The expansion is one of the largest in dollar amounts by any automaker in the Southern Auto Corridor. The Kentucky plant will be refitted to handle the Toyota New Global Architecture, which means assembly lines can be quickly shifted to produce stronger selling models. Toyota employs nearly 10,000 people in Kentucky and over 8,000 at its Georgetown assembly plant. The expansion is one of the largest ever in the U.S.

 

Demand for Ford Escape best in history

The automotive industry is preparing for a drop in overall sales this year, but depending on the model, some automakers are still at three shifts, 24/7. Demand for small SUVs like the Ford Escape has never been higher. Ford makes the Escape at is plant in Louisville. The automaker will shorten its traditional two-week summer shutdown to one week in order to assemble 8,500 additional Escape models this year.

 

KAAP to expand in Bowling Green, create 129 jobs

Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products (KAAP) will expand for a seventh time in Bowling Green, investing more than $51 million and creating 129 full-time jobs. KAAP will add more than 108,000 square feet to accommodate new production lines and equipment.

 

Paducah automotive supplier plans 50-job expansion

UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries plans to expand its presence in Paducah, Ky., with a $3.3 million investment expected to bring an additional 50 jobs. The project will include machining centers, robotics and additional fabrication equipment.

 

Kentucky auto supplier spends $20 million

Combined with its operations in Bullitt and Nelson counties, a supplier for the automotive industry will spend almost $50 million and hire 35 to expand its current facilities in Shepherdsville. Tower Automotive Operations USA received preliminary approval for tax incentives through the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

 

LOUISIANA

World’s largest auto refrigerant plant opens in Louisiana

Honeywell celebrated the startup of its $300 million Louisiana plant that makes a next-generation air conditioning refrigerant. The product will sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Celebrating 10 years, Toyota announced the construction of a visitor center at the assembly complex in Blue Springs, Miss. Pictured is Sean Suggs, vice president of manufacturing for Toyota Mississippi, who said, “This investment will allow us to build an interactive visitor and training center that will spotlight the Corolla’s rise to the best-selling car in the world.”MISSISSIPPI

Toyota announces major Mississippi investments

Toyota Motor Corp. is making a major financial investment in its Blue Springs, Miss., manufacturing facility with the announcement of a $10 million visitor and interactive training center as well as $350,000 in donations for education and literacy. Officials announced the investments at the recently celebrated 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the $1 billion plant in Union County.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Auto supplier opening plant in North Carolina

Borealis Compounds, a maker of plastic materials for use in fenders, dashboards and grills, will open a new plant in Alexander County, N.C. The company, which supplies GM, Ford, BMW, VW, Volvo and other automakers, is investing $15 million and will hire 37 in the deal.

 

Brake plant to add 160 jobs in $40 million expansion

Continental North America will spend $40 million to expand its Morganton automobile brake plant, adding 160 jobs in the process. The added capacity will allow the company to make its new MK C1 braking system.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina captures another mammoth tire plant

Chinese tire maker Wanli Tire is planning to invest up to $1 billion in a new plant in Orangeburg, S.C. The state plans to provide $40 million to assist in developing the site in Orangeburg County. The project is expected to create up to 1,200 jobs. South Carolina produces more tires than any other state in the U.S., and is home to foreign-owned tire makers based in France, Japan, Germany, Singapore, Sweden and China.

 

Mercedes-Benz van plant begins hiring process

Mercedes-Benz Vans is completing its plant in North Charleston, and has begun the hiring process. The company expects to hire 1,000 workers within three years at the plant.

 

Volvo moving equipment into South Carolina plant

Sweden-based, China-owned Volvo plant in Berkeley County is gearing up to make the S60 sedan in the Palmetto State. The $500 million, 2.3 million-square-foot facility is ahead of schedule, meaning mass hiring for the facility will come sometime in the fall. Volvo will begin testing its machinery at the plant in August, and the first vehicle will make a test run through the body shop, paint shop and final assembly lines by the end of this year. The company expects to hire 2,000 workers for its first phase. Volvo sold 82,724 in the U.S. last year, its best year since 2007.

 

Volvo to export cars to China

Volvo. (Sweden-based, Chinese-owned), is planning to export cars to China from an American plant. The factory under construction in Berkeley County, S.C., will employ 4,000 workers and produce a small sedan that will be sold in Europe and China beginning in 2018.

 

Wabco opens $20 million Lowcountry expansion

A Brussels-based automotive supplier is growing its existing Lowcountry footprint. Wabco recently celebrated the opening of its $20 million manufacturing facility in North Charleston, which will supply parts to major truck, bus and trailer manufacturers. The 55 new hires bring the facility’s total to 230 employees.

 

Finland-based Nokian Tyres announced it will build a $360 million tire production plant in Dayton, Tenn.TENNESSEE

Volkswagen to build a small SUV in Chattanooga

In May, the first SUV made at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant rolled off the line. Called the Atlas, the mid-sized SUV is a seven-seat model. VW announced in April that it will now add a smaller five-seat SUV at the plant. No date for production has been set. VW also assembles the Passat sedan at the plant. The company is adding 200 more workers to the 1,000 who have already been hired since December.

 

Another tire manufacturer captured by Tennessee

Finland-based Nokian Tyres announced in the spring it will build a $360 million tire production plant in Dayton, Tenn. It is the largest foreign direct investment in Rhea County’s history. The new 830,000-square-foot plant will house 400 workers.

 

Trio of Tennessee auto suppliers announce expansions

A trio of automotive suppliers in Smyrna, Tenn., will add 520 jobs in expansion plans totaling $142.4 million. Federal-Mogul will add 285 jobs, Topre America plans for 145 new jobs and Steel Technologies for 90. All three companies will receive tax incentives.

 

Canadian auto parts manufacturer setting up shop in rural Tennessee

Based in Canada, Tennessee Tool and Fixture, a maker of automotive mold and castings, is setting up shop in Manchester, Tenn. The $6.5 million plant will house 60 workers.

 

Japanese auto parts supplier to build new Tennessee plant

Japan-based Miyake Forging will build a new $13.7 million bearings plant in Surgoinsville. The plant, in Hawkins County in Northeast Tennessee, will house 60 workers.

 

TEXAS

Toyota moving thousands of employees into new Texas headquarters

They are coming from Kentucky, California and New York to a spanking new headquarters in Plano, Texas. We’re talking about Japanese automaker Toyota and the consolidation of its three North American headquarters into one in the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA. About 250 team members moved into the new 100-acre, 2.1 million-square-foot corporate campus in May, and Toyota has moved about that many employees into the new facility every week since. The new headquarters has room for 6,500 employees. 

 

Toyota’s vehicle data science hub doubling headcount in Texas

Toyota Connected, the automaker’s data science division that is located next to the company’s new headquarters in Plano, Texas, is doubling its employee headcount to 200.

 

Truck manufacturer to locate in McKinney, Texas

PACCAR, a manufacturer of a variety of trucks, will locate a new facility in McKinney to produce its Dynacraft series. The $20 million plant will house an undetermined number of workers.

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