Top 100 - Major Auto Products

The last two years have seen a remarkable transformation of the Southern Automotive Corridor, the preferred location for the automotive industry in North America. Here are some of the highlights of projects announced in 2021 and 2022.

Hyundai to invest billions in electric vehicles in the Southern Automotive Corridor
South Korean sister automakers Hyundai and Kia will invest $7.4 billion in their electric vehicle transition in the U.S., the companies announced in the spring. Hyundai operates its only U.S. plant in Montgomery, Ala., and Kia operates its only U.S. plant 80 miles away in West Point, Ga.

Mazda Toyota set to begin production in Alabama
To date, Mazda Toyota has hired 1,600 workers for its plant in Huntsville that will soon begin mass production. In June, the joint venture announced the first vehicle to be made at the plant — the Toyota Corolla Cross small SUV. Mazda Toyota still has to hire 2,400 more workers, which they have found particularly tough during a pandemic. Danielle Winningham, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County EDA (home of Mercedes-Benz), said that her county alone will see about 3,200 new jobs created in the next two to three years.

Mercedes suppliers foresee 3,200 new jobs for the Tuscaloosa area
Regarding potential job growth at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, the automaker predicts its suppliers are looking to bring 3,200 jobs to the Tuscaloosa County area within the next two to three years as it expands into the electric vehicle market.

Auto battery deal saves 2,600 Georgia jobs
Electric vehicle parts competitors SK Innovation (SKI) and LG Energy Solution (LGES) have reached an agreement in an ongoing dispute on trade secrets that will preserve 2,600 jobs in Northeast Georgia. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of LGES in February, after the company accused SKI of stealing 22 of its trade secrets. The ruling banned SKI from importing battery parts and components for 10 years, with some exceptions. SKI has agreed to pay LGES $1.8 billion in lump-sum payments and royalties. Both companies agreed to withdraw pending litigation and not seek enforcement of patent or intellectual rights for 10 years.

Elon Musk recruits employees at new Austin Tesla plant via Twitter
Entrepreneur Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla took to Twitter in April to recruit employees at the new Gigafactory that will build Tesla’s first cybertruck near the airport in Austin. Musk wants to recruit 10,000 employees to the new facility, double the number originally announced.

Toyota West Virginia expanding Buffalo facility
Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV) will invest $210 million to upgrade existing engine production and add 100 new jobs to increase capacity of its four-cylinder engine line. Once complete, TMMWV’s total investment will be more than $1.8 billion and employment will exceed 2,000 at the Buffalo facility.

Electric vehicle startup Canoo, backed by Amazon, is producing its vehicles in Arkansas and Oklahoma.Big EV automotive deal in rural Oklahoma
It has been reported that a site in Oklahoma came in second for the massive Tesla truck plant that Elon Musk is locating in Austin near its airport. The second-place prize may be electric car manufacturer Canoo. The startup EV maker announced plans to build a $400 million plant at the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, just east of Tulsa. The deal, as announced, will create 2,000 jobs. The site, a former military base, is unique in that it is over 9,000 acres. Canoo execs cited Oklahoma’s “energy-forward initiatives” as a major factor in its decision to locate the “mega microfactory.”

New United States Postal Service vehicle plant in Spartanburg to house over 1,000 jobs
Oshkosh Defense will invest $155 million to locate a plant that will produce the next generation USPS delivery vehicle. The company will assemble zero-emission battery electric vehicles and fuel-efficient, low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles that will replace existing USPS delivery trucks. The plant will be built in Spartanburg and create more than 1,000 jobs.

Volvo invests $118 million to build EVs in South Carolina
Volvo Cars says it will invest $118 million in its plant in Ridgeville to build the fully electric Polestar 3 vehicles. The Polestar 3 is the third vehicle scheduled to be built at the South Carolina plant. This expansion brings the total Volvo Cars investment in South Carolina to more than $1.2 billion.

Amazon- and Ford-backed EV maker Rivian gets a break in Georgia
In the fall of 2021, electric vehicle startup Rivian announced one of the South’s largest ever economic development deals. The company announced it would build a $5 billion, 7,500-employee facility to make batteries and electric vehicles for U.S. and global consumption. The company is well financed, with major stockholders coming from Amazon and Ford Motor Company, among other major players. But like many mega-projects located near large MSAs (this deal is being built on a site just east of Atlanta in an area bordered by Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties), there is some local opposition.

Bill Ford announces a new mega campus called Blue Oval City
Ford Motor and battery supplier SK Innovation have planned to invest over $11 billion at two sites in the South, one in Kentucky and the other in Tennessee. The projects will produce electric vehicles and batteries. The two sites are the Memphis Regional Megasite and the Glendale Megasite in Hardin County, Ky. The Tennessee project will include a 3,600-acre campus, a supplier park, recycling center and a new assembly plant to build F-Series trucks. The two projects are expected to create almost 11,000 full-time jobs and are part of President Joe Biden’s call for companies to onshore supply chains amid the global shortage of semiconductor chips and the logistics backlog that is being experienced in the supply chain from foreign countries. The state of Tennessee invested more than $174 million on improvements at the Memphis Regional Megasite. Tens of millions have also been spent on the Glendale Megasite in central Kentucky over the years as well. That site came in second in the Hyundai site search that ended up in Montgomery, Ala., nearly 20 years ago. The joint venture on both sites will be called BlueOvalSK.

Nissan to upgrade Mississippi and Tennessee plants amid EV push

Japan’s Nissan Motor Company will spend about $700 million at two U.S. manufacturing plants to implement new technologies to make electric vehicles. The investment is part of a $1.2 billion global investment to make the automaker’s global factories more efficient, less polluting and ready to produce next-generation cars such as electric vehicles. The Nissan plants in Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn., are part of the ramp-up.

Korean automaker is expanding its electric vehicle lineup in Georgia and Montgomery, Ala.Hyundai pours $300 million into Montgomery plant for EVs
Hyundai plans to start production of its first Alabama-made electric vehicles this fall, part of a $300 million expansion that will create 200 more jobs. The company recently announced that its Santa Fe Hybrid would start rolling off the assembly line in Montgomery this October. It will be the first electric vehicle the company has made in America. The plant will start production of the Electrified Genesis GV70 luxury SUV in December.

Toyota again expanding its Alabama engine plant
Japanese automaker Toyota will be the exclusive North American producer of the twin-turbo V6 engine for the 2022 Tundra. The manufacturer said the twin-turbo V6 engine line represents a $288 million investment in Toyota Alabama operations and an added 450 jobs, bringing total employment to 1,800.

Toyota announces $461 million investment in Kentucky plant
Toyota is investing $461 million into its plant in Georgetown, Ky., to add new technology, increase production flexibility and reduce its carbon footprint. The announcement does not include new jobs at the central Kentucky facility, but officials said 1,400 temporary jobs would be converted into permanent positions.

 North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper spoke at the Toyota announcement where the Japanese automaker is building a huge electric vehicle complex in Randolph County. Toyota’s investment in its Battery Manufacturing North Carolina plant will exceed $2.5 billion and 2,000 jobs. Toyota picks North Carolina megasite for electric battery plant
Toyota has picked the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite for a large electric battery plant to ramp up electric vehicle manufacturing in the U.S. The site is a 1,825-acre site rezoned for heavy industry located near the center of the state.

Big battery plant in middle Tennessee on schedule
The construction of the Ultium Cells battery plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., is on schedule as of the fall quarter, company officials announced. The 2.8 million-square-foot facility is a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution. GM operates a large assembly plant in Spring Hill. One of the models that will use the batteries is a new one called the Cadillac Lyriq luxury crossover, Cadillac’s very first all-electric vehicle. The project will create 1,300 new jobs. 

The EV run continues: Vietnamese company announces battery and assembly plant in North Carolina
Vinfast, a Vietnamese automaker founded in 2017, announced in March it will build its first North American factory to make electric vehicles and batteries. It’s a big deal if completed. The company will invest $2 billion in its first phase and hire 7,500.

Georgia wins new Hyundai plant
Hyundai is building facilities dedicated to manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries in Savannah, marking Hyundai’s first EV-only plant in the U.S. The South Korean automaker will spend $5.5 billion on the new facilities and will receive an additional $1 billion investment from its suppliers. Hyundai expects production at the 2,923-acre site to begin in the first half of 2025, with construction starting in early 2023. The EV factory is set to make 300,000 vehicles per year and will add around 8,100 new jobs.

Nissan investing $500 million in Mississippi expansion
Nissan will build two all-new, all-electric vehicles at its Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi. The automaker will invest $500 million in its Canton facility to support the expansion, which will bring the company’s total investment in Mississippi since 2003 to $4 billion.

Volkswagen announces 1,000 new Tennessee hires
Volkswagen announced in May it would seek to hire 1,000 new employees to add a third shift at the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant and drive production for three VW models, including the electric ID.4. The German automaker will use the third shift to assemble three VW models for the North American market; the Volkswagen Atlas SUV, Atlas Cross Sport and electric ID.4.

The love affair between Alabama and German automaker Mercedes-Benz continues. The company recently began assembling its first electric vehicles in Tuscaloosa County. Mercedes begins assembling electric vehicles at Alabama plant
Twenty-five years after rolling out SUV job No. 1 at its plant in Vance, Ala., German automaker Mercedes-Benz assembled its first electric SUV at its only U.S. OEM facility. Five years of development and $1 billion in investments for battery making and a new assembly line has created 1,000 new jobs in West Alabama. During that time, Mercedes has faced all kinds of hurdles to start EV production, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the semiconductor shortage, staffing challenges and global supply chain issues. The automaker houses nearly 5,000 workers at its plants in Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties.

Two-million-square-foot industrial park planned near Mazda Toyota in North Alabama
Fairway Investments and Triad Properties have purchased land to build a 2-million-square-foot industrial park in the fast-growing Limestone County part of Huntsville. The property is located a short distance from the $2.3 billion Mazda and Toyota automotive assembly plant in Limestone County, Ala.

EV parts maker making major investment in Kentucky
In late August, Envision AESC broke ground on a $2 billion electric vehicle battery gigafactory in Bowling Green’s Kentucky Transpark. The deal, a further testament that the EV industry is positively affecting just about every Southern state, is expected to generate 2,000 jobs.

Western Kentucky gets $300 million EV battery investment
Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements picks Hopkinsville for a plant that will produce materials for electric vehicle batteries, Gov. Andy Beshear announced in August. The plant will house up to 400 employees.

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