Southern Auto Corridor - Summer 2023

The Boyd Company publishes top 30 U.S. cities to attract investment in EV suppliers

A report released in the summer by The Boyd Company, a New Jersey-based corporate site selection firm, examined 30 U.S. cities that are positioned to attract investment in the electric vehicle supply equipment industry based on their proximity to EV assembly plants — built, under construction or announced.

The Southern Automotive Corridor, in less than half a decade, has certainly become the region of choice in North America for EV investments, such those by Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan (really, the trail blazer years ago), Mercedes, BMW, Ford (all in for EVs by that domestic automaker) and GM, just to name a few. That does not even count startups like Rivian and VinFast.

Suppliers to these multi-billion-dollar EV-BAT campuses are now starting to stack up. Some are investing billions in supplier facilities. Never have we seen a $4 billion “automotive parts supplier” plant. That figure for a supplier is unheard of.

SB&D has covered automotive suppliers and assembly plants in the South since 1982 and ramped up the copy big-time when BMW announced its first North American plant in Spartanburg County, S.C., in 1992. Mercedes-Benz followed suit in 1993 with its Tuscaloosa County, Ala., plant in 1993. So many others have followed.

So, back to the Boyd report

Boyd compared annual operating costs for a typical electric vehicle supplier (EVSE) manufacturing plant in each of the surveyed cities where EV assembly is nearby.

Boyd figured the total annual operating cost for a 500-employee worker facility in the 30 cities it selected. Those costs included labor, taxes, real estate, construction and utilities, also based on a 150,000-square-foot EVSE plant (which seems a little small to us).

The California markets were obviously the most costly, with total annual operating costs of $62 million in San Jose. Los Angeles was at $57 million. Boston, Seattle and Detroit were, for example, at about $50 million per year to operate a 500-employee EV supplier plant.

One of the 30 areas on the list in the South was Northern Virginia, at $53 million in operating costs per year.

However, the least expensive places to operate an EVSE plant were in the Southern Automotive Corridor —
Raleigh-Durham at $47 million; Greensboro, N.C., at $46 million; Charleston, S.C., Louisville, Nashville and Memphis (about $45 million each) and bringing up the rear (or the least expensive place to locate an EV supplier plant) was Chattanooga at $44 million.

Interestingly enough, no Georgia market made the list, even though Hyundai is building a massive facility near Savannah and Rivian near Atlanta. 


AIDT (Alabama Industrial Development Training) is relaunching its Shift campaign, which debuted in March 2022, to help fill over 11,000 career opportunities now available at automakers’ Alabama facilities and the extensive network of suppliers in the state. “The Shift campaign’s No. 1 goal is to get people interested in automotive jobs, even those people who already have jobs,” said Ed Castile, AIDT’s director.Alabama is all-in on finding 11,000 auto industry workers

There are more than 11,000 jobs in Alabama among its hundreds of auto industry suppliers and OEMs, like Toyota’s engine factory in Huntsville, Hyundai in Montgomery, Mercedes in Tuscaloosa and out east with Honda.

Alabama has implemented what they call the “Shift” campaign to recruit those workers. “Shift” is a campaign crafted by Birmingham-based Big Communications to reach beyond Alabama for potential workers around the South who may be seeking their first jobs, or better ones.


Startup EV maker Rivian gets go ahead in Georgia to build its $5 billion plant

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal contesting the legitimacy of Rivian’s expected property tax breaks for its new $5 billion EV facility in the state. Rivian first announced plans for a massive 2,000-acre, $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Georgia in December 2021. When fully operational, the complex east of Atlanta will be capable of assembling 400,000 vehicles annually.

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 at its new facility in Bulloch County, Ga. The future $5.54 billion Hyundai EV plant is the largest economic development project in state history.

Hyundai and 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 that Hyundai is building in the state. The project is a part of its previously announced, $5.5 billion complex in Bryan County, which will bring 8,100 jobs.


As the second battery plant begins to take shape and hiring hourly workers has begun for the 5,000 jobs being created at the two plants, Gov. Andy Beshear joined BlueOval SK executives to tour BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale, Ky. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)Gov. Andy Beshear tours BlueOval SK plant in Glendale, Ky.

In August the second electric vehicle battery plant broke ground at Ford and SK’s BlueOval battery facility in Hardin County, Ky. The $5.8 billion complex will house 5,000 workers who will produce advanced batteries for Ford and Lincoln brand electric vehicles. The megasite in Glendale had been available for more than two decades, with Hyundai and other large users checking it out more than 20 years ago. Hyundai eventually took its plant to Montgomery, Ala. The two battery plants in Kentucky will go online in 2025. 

A $240 million investment starts at MAGMA tech facility in Bowling Green

O-I Glass has begun construction on a revolutionary greenfield glass facility, utilizing MAGMA technology. The technology is used for manufacturing flexible, modular glass.

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

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


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 products for the beverage packaging, automotive and alloy industry.  


What is expected to be the largest economic development project in North Carolina history — the Vinfast facility — officially broke ground in the summer.VinFast breaks ground in North Carolina

What is expected to be the largest economic development project in North Carolina history officially broke ground in the summer. Last year, the Vietnamese automaker announced plans to build a 7,500-job facility at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite near Moncure as part of a $4 billion investment. The company filed site plans with Chatham County that revealed the factory will be more than 2.8 million square feet with eight buildings. 

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. Toyota 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.


Largest project in Northeast South Carolina breaks ground

In the summer quarter, a groundbreaking ceremony was performed for AESC in Florence, S.C. The Japanese battery facility will employ over 1,000 workers with an average salary of $65,000 a year. According to Florence County Economic Development CEO Gregg Robinson, AESC’s deal is one of the largest economic development deals in the county’s history. AESC will supply battery cells used in next-generation electric vehicles produced by BMW near Greenville.

Albemarle Corp. will invest $1.3 billion and create more than 300 new jobs in Chester County

Approval has been granted for Albemarle Corp.’s investment in its lithium hydroxide processing facility in Chester County. The significant investment comes after previous passes for incentives by the county when the project was under the code name Project Raven.

BMW breaks ground on new battery plant

German automaker BMW broke ground on its new high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff, S.C., in the summer. The 1-milion-square-foot facility, with an investment of $700 million, will support the company’s $1 billion in investment to supply and build fully electric BMW X models at its plant in Spartanburg.


Volkswagen plans to hire 500 workers in Chattanooga

Volkswagen 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.

6K Energy to invest $166 million in battery material manufacturing plant in Jackson, Tenn.

Governor Lee announced the company will invest in a full-scale PlusCAM™ battery material manufacturing plant. With its initial investment, 6K Energy plans on expanding to $250 million in future phases. The company will also be using its $50 million U.S. Department of Energy grant for the factory.


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

With 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.

GM will invest $500 million in Texas plant

GM’s investment will prepare its facility in Arlington, Texas, 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.

latest magazine issue
randle report
auto corridor

Southern Business & Development
8086 Westchester Place
Montgomery AL 36117