Southern Auto Corridor - Fall 2017

News from the South’s auto industry courtesy of


A new U.S. plant for Nissan?
Japanese automaker Nissan is exploring a new plant in the U.S., according to its chairman. “At some point, we may need it,” said Jose Munoz, chairman of Nissan North America in an article published by Automotive News. Munoz said that Nissan’s plants in Tennessee and Mississippi are “maxed out.”


Toyota investing in Southern plants
Toyota just upped the stakes to remain the top manufacturer of hybrid vehicles worldwide with a $373.8 million investment in five U.S. manufacturing plants to support production of its first American-made hybrid powertrain. Of the total investment, Bodine Aluminum in Troy, Mo., receives $17 million, and $14.56 million will go to the Bodine plant in Jackson, Tenn. The automaker’s plant in Georgetown, Ky., will get $120 million to expand production of the 2.5-liter engine. Other plants in line for additional investment are located in West Virginia and Alabama.


Toyota and Mazda partner on EVs
Toyota, Mazda and Denso have signed a new partnership through which they will jointly establish a new company for the development of electric cars. Neither Toyota nor Mazda offer fully electric vehicles in their lineup yet, so the new partnership will give both automakers the basic structural components for EVs. The partnership will include a new joint plant for Toyota and Mazda. Reports indicate the site of the plant will most likely be in Alabama or North Carolina.





Mercedes-Benz will invest another $1 billion in Alabama plant

Mercedes-Benz announced in the fall quarter it will invest another $1 billion in its Vance, Ala., plant to assemble electric SUVs for the German automaker’s EQ brand. As part of the expansion, Mercedes will build
a new 1-million-square-foot battery plant next to the assembly plant. This latest expansion will add 600 jobs.


Big German automotive supplier picks Bama

German Tier 1 supplier Bocar, is investing $115 million in a new plant in Huntsville. The company will break ground on the facility next year and production will begin in 2020. The project is expected to create 300 jobs.


Mexican auto supplier expanding in Alabama

Nemak USA, a Mexican aluminum auto parts manufacturer, is investing $34 million in its plant in Talladega County. The company makes engine blocks and structural components. The deal will create 67 jobs.


Royal Technologies expands Cullman plant

Royal Technologies plans a $14 million expansion of its manufacturing operation in Cullman. The project is expected to create 25 jobs. The company produces polymer products, primarily plastic and foam, for the automotive, furniture and consumer goods industries.





Nucor Steel in Hickman, Ark., made a major announcement recently during their 25th anniversary celebration near Blytheville — a $230 million expansion and 100 more jobs.Nucor Steel announces $230 million expansion, 100 new jobs

Officials at Nucor Steel in Hickman, Ark., made a major announcement recently during their 25th anniversary celebration near Blytheville. A $230 million expansion means 100 more jobs. Company VP Mary Emily Slate said the new mill is the first of its kind. “This is the first mill in America that will take deeper reductions on higher strength steels so we can make stronger and lighter steels for many customers, including those in the automotive industry,” she said.





Aluminum plant opens $400 million Kentucky expansion

In the fall quarter, Belgium-based Aleris Corp. opened its $400 million expansion in Lewisport, Ky. The expansion will add new capacity to produce aluminum sheet for the automotive industry. The company houses about 1,000 workers at the mill. 


Toyota has opened its $80 million Production Engineering and Manufacturing Center in Georgetown, Ky. Employing 800 people, the facility will help develop new technology for Toyota’s plants across North America.Toyota debuts new Kentucky center

Toyota has opened its $80 million, 235,000-square-foot Production Engineering and Manufacturing Center in Georgetown, Ky. The facility will employ approximately 800 people, including 600 production engineers. The Georgetown facility will also help innovate and develop new technology for Toyota’s manufacturing plants across North America.


Bus manufacturer setting up shop in Kentucky

New Flyer of America, a manufacturer of transit buses, is setting up a 300,000-square-foot parts fabrication facility in Shepherdsville. The project is expected to house up to 550 workers.


Automotive supplier to establish new plant in Franklin

South Korea-based Taeyang Metal Industrial Company, a manufacturer of fasteners and cold-rolled steel products for the automotive industry, will establish a plant in Franklin. The $15.6 million facility, which will house 76 full-time jobs, is the first for the company in the U.S.


Fritz Winter opens Kentucky foundry

Germany-based Fritz Winter North America opened the first phase of its iron casting foundry and manufacturing facility in Franklin, Ky. The large-scale project will produce brake rotors and bring roughly 200 new jobs to the Bluegrass State. The company invested $110 million in the initial phase, which could grow to about $194 million with a planned expansion, and total employment could surpass 300.





Nissan to export Mississippi-made Titan pickups to China

The Nissan Titan has only a 1.7 percent share of the large U.S. pickup truck market as of October. Capacity of the truck at the Japanese automaker’s plant near Jackson, Miss., is limited, but whatever is left off of U.S. sales will now be exported to China, where the vehicle is popular. Other potential export markets for the Titan include Australia, Russia and the Middle East. As of the end of October, the full-sized Titan had sold about 40,000 models, which is about the number of Ford F-series pickups sold in three weeks in the U.S.  


SMW Manufacturing acquires Caterpillar operations in Lafayette County

SMW Manufacturing is taking over operations at the former Caterpillar facility in Lafayette County, Miss. The company plans to invest in excess of $15 million and hire up to 50 employees, mostly former Caterpillar employees. SMW manufactures components for the heavy truck, automotive, mining, construction and industrial markets.





Georgia-based Exide Technologies has invested $35 million to create a state-of-the-art battery manufacturing facility in Kansas City, Mo.Battery maker invests $35 million in new KC facility

Georgia-based Exide Technologies, an automotive and industrial battery manufacturer, has invested $35 million to create a state-of-the-art facility in Kansas City that will create up to 50 jobs.





North Carolina megasite adds 370 acres, awaits Toyota-Mazda

Officials with the Greensboro-Randolph County Megasite have added 370 acres, bumping up the site to 1,900 acres. Reports indicate the site is in the running for the prospective Toyota-Mazda project.


Plant expansion to bring 145 jobs to Burke County

Governor Roy Cooper came to Burke County in October to tout the expansion and creation of 145 jobs at Continental’s Morganton plant. The investment coincided with the German auto parts plant’s 25th anniversary.





Equipment installation underway at new Mercedes van plant in South Carolina

In 2015, Mercedes-Benz Vans announced it would build a new production facility for its Sprinter Van model in Ladson, S.C., near Charleston. The plant is nearing completion as equipment installation — including 182 robots — began in the fall quarter. Mercedes is expected to hire about 1,000 workers that have been trained at other Sprinter Van plants in Australia and Spain.


Giti opens in South Carolina

Giti Tires, headquartered in Singapore, has opened its first U.S. plant, set to bring 1,700 jobs to Chester County. The global company partnered with Walmart as part of the retailer’s commitment to purchase $250 billion in products, supporting American jobs.


Trucast expands operations in Newberry

Trucast, a manufacturer of components for automotive engines and power generation, will invest $3 million to expand its operations center in Newberry. Part of the United Kingdom-headquartered Doncasters Group, Trucast supplies automotive manufacturers such as Borg Warner, Cummins and Honeywell.





Denso investing $1 billion in Tennessee plant, creating 1,000 jobs

Japan-based global automotive supplier Denso announced that the company will expand its operations in Maryville, Tenn. Denso will create approximately 1,000 jobs and invest $1 billion to make its Blount County facility a primary manufacturing center in North America for electrification and safety systems.


Auto parts supplier expanding in Tennessee

Magnum Manufacturing, a company that supplies metal stamping, seat frames and doors for the automotive sector, is investing $2 million to expand its plant in Erin, Tenn. The move will create 50 jobs.


Nissan to expand Smyrna battery plant

Crews will expand the battery plant at the Nissan automobile factory by 26,450 square feet after the Smyrna Planning Commission approved the plans in October.


Hankook opens $800 million plant in Tennessee

The South Korean-based company unveiled its first U.S. manufacturing site in October at the grand opening event at Hankook’s new $800 million tire plant in Clarksville. Officials estimate 1,600 employees could be hired there.


Auto parts company selects Memphis for new home

An auto parts supplier created in the merger of Memphis-area companies has put its head office in Memphis. Highline Aftermarket will invest $500,000, add  91 jobs and expand its primary distribution center in Shelby County.





Perrone Robotics, a developer of autonomous car software, will invest $3.8 million to expand its research and development operation in Albemarle County, Va.Perrone Robotics expands in Albemarle County

Perrone Robotics, a developer of autonomous car software, will invest $3.8 million to expand its research and development operation in Albemarle County, Va. The company expects to create 127 new jobs.

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