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 Southern Auto Corridor News

May 10, 2010

April Continues Strong Comeback in the Southern Automotive Corridor

Automotive OEMs and suppliers continue to ramp up in the Southern Automotive Corridor, a sign that the industry sector is rebounding faster than experts predicted at the end of 2009. This news update features more new job generating projects from the automotive sector in the South than we have seen in almost three years. While deals in the Southern Automotive Corridor don't yet match those seen in the very active years of 2000-2005, dozens of current and next generation automotive deals were announced in the South in March and April. 

Is VW Scouting Sites in Tennessee for an Engine Plant?

Sources who requested that they not be identified have told that Volkswagen officials are scouting sites within a 60-mile radius of Chattanooga, Tenn. for an engine plant to serve the German automaker's assembly facility that it is building there. VW officials have gone on the record as saying engines for cars produced at the Chattanooga plant beginning next year will be imported from Germany, Poland and Mexico initially. Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said in April that economic developers in Chattanooga are pursuing the possible engine and/or transmission plant and would like for it to be built at Enterprise South Industrial park, the site of VW's 2 million-square-foot assembly operation.

Volkswagen Names Five Companies for Supplier Park

In the spring VW named five of the seven parts suppliers that will build facilities at its adjoining supplier park in Chattanooga. Chattanooga Seating, Faurecia, Magna, MTEK and Thyssen Krupp were all named as occupants in the park.

Eight of Ten-Lowest Cost of Living States in the South

Eight of the nation's ten-lowest cost of living states are locating in the South according to ACCRA's 4th quarter 2009 report. Oklahoma was the state with the lowest cost of living according to the report. Oklahoma was followed by Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Missouri and Georgia.

GM Expanding Kansas Facility

GM announced in the spring it is investing $136 million in its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan., establishing the facility as the primary Malibu model assembly plant in North America. The expansion will not create new jobs at the auto works, which currently houses almost 4,000 workers and also produces the Buick LaCrosse sedan.

AW North Carolina Investing $100 Million in Durham, N.C.

AW North Carolina, a Toyota supplier that builds transmissions in Durham, N.C., will invest more than $100 million and add 360 jobs at its North Carolina plant. The company will add a new production line that will assemble front-wheel drive transmissions for Toyota.

Magna Building Two Plants in Chattanooga

Ontario-based Magna International announced in late April it intends to build two plants in Chattanooga to supply the VW plant there. The company previously announced it would supply VW's seating. The company also plans to operate a plant that will provide fascias, sealing systems and pillar trim covers through its Exteriors and Interiors unit. Initially, Magna plans to create 140 jobs through the two operations.

Cooper Tire Hiring 200 More in Texarkana

In late 2008, the Cooper Tire and Rubber Plant in Texarkana, Ark. was on the brink of closing. Now Ohio-based Cooper Tire has announced that it is hiring 200 more workers at the plant, bringing employment at the facility to 1,500. The plant produces 450 different types of tires after it picked up about 75 tire models when Cooper closed its Albany, Ga. plant more than a year ago. The Texarkana factory has a payroll of more than $75 million a year.

Volvo Moving HQ Unit to Greensboro, N.C.

Volvo Financial Services (VFS) is moving its headquarters from Montvale, N.J. to Greensboro. VFS will join sister companies Mack Truck and Volvo Truck, which both have their headquarters in the Piedmont Triad.

Canadian Automotive Supplier Investing $16M in Alabama

Windsor, Canada-based Plasman Corp. announced in the spring it is bringing an automotive facility to Fort Payne, Ala. The company will provide plastic injection molding, painting and assembly of exterior parts and tool repair. The $16 million deal will create 200 jobs initially with over 300 expected in three years. Plasman has contracts with Nissan, Honda, Toyota and GM.

Ohio-Based Supplier Opening Alabama Plant

Pilkington North America, of Toledo, Ohio, is opening a new facility in Athens, Ala. The company will supply front door glass assemblies for the Honda Odyssey that is built in Lincoln, Ala. The deal will create 10 new jobs.

Detroit Auto Supplier Relocating to Chattanooga

Security by Design, a Tier 1 supplier of electronic security integration systems, is moving its headquarters from Detroit to Chattanooga, Tenn. as a result of a new contract with the VW plant being built there. The company provides security integration for VW's 37 facilities in North America. The deal is expected to create about 40 jobs.

Honda Hires New Logistics Operator at Alabama Plant

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), which recently won the VW plant logistics contract in Chattanooga, is taking over the same responsibility at Honda's Lincoln, Ala. plant. All of the employees of the previous logistics supplier are expected to be retained by WWL. 

Southern Tool Expands in Chattanooga on VW Prospects

Southern Tool Steel announced it May it will invest $1.7 million and add 25 jobs at its Chattanooga operations. The distributor of metals and plastics will double its production capacity on the prospects of supplying products to machine shops and other manufacturers associated with the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

German Auto Supplier Adding Jobs in Alabama

Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems announced in May it is adding 25 jobs and 9,600 square feet at its plant in Auburn, Ala. The company makes hydraulic systems for power lift gates for five GM vehicle models.

HK Motors Buys Chinese Battery Manufacturer

Hybrid Kenetic Group Ltd. the parent company of HK Motors, which is proposing an automotive assembly plant near Bay Minette, Ala., has purchased a Chinese company that makes lithium-ion batteries. Hybrid Kenetic purchased Zhejiang GBS Energy for $26.4 million. HK Motors plans to use the batteries for the hybrid vehicles it has proposed to assemble in south Alabama.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Hiring 200 in Oklahoma

U.S. Highland Inc. is increasing production at its Mounds, Okla. headquarters. The expansion could include five new buildings to accommodate production lines for motorcycles and engines as well as more space for research and development. U.S. Highland moved to Oklahoma from Sweden two years ago to produce street and off-road sport bikes.

Wind Energy Facility Will House 215 Georgia Workers

ZF Group, an automotive industry parts supplier, announced in the spring it will invest $90 million and create 215 jobs at a new wind turbine gearbox plant in Gainesville, Ga. The plant will be built near an existing ZF facility that manufactures axle drives and transmissions for passenger vehicles and heavy construction equipment.

Mercedes Supplier Expanding

Gestamp Alabama is expanding its plant in McCalla, Ala. by adding 30 jobs. The company supplies underbody stampings to Mercedes-Benz at its plant in Vance, Ala.

Hino Starts Truck Chassis Production in Arkansas

Japan-based Hino Motors Manufacturing USA officially started production of commercial truck frame rails at is Marion, Ark. plant in April. The chassis rails will be delivered to assembly plants in West Virginia and in Canada. Hino also machines connection rods for diesel engines at the plant, which is located just across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn. Hino has been operating in Marion since 2006.

Parts Supplier Adding Jobs in Auburn, Ala.

Korean auto supplier Pyongsan America is expanding its Auburn, Ala. operations. The company plans to lease a second manufacturing facility in Auburn and invest $5 million and add 100 new jobs. The company manufactures air conditioning and heater core pipe assemblies.

VW Vehicle Processor to Create 80 Jobs

New Jersey-based Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics announced in the spring it will provide vehicle processing and yard management for Volkswagen's new Chattanooga assembly plant. The deal will create 80 new jobs.

Korean Auto Parts Supplier Locates in Rural Alabama

Daeil USA, a subsidiary of Korean parts supplier Daeil Precision Co., announced in the spring quarter it is locating a plant at the former Halla Mando Valley building in Chambers County, Ala. The company, which will hire 75 workers, will provide struts and other parts to the automotive industry in the Southern Automotive Corridor. 

Alabama Robotics Park not Open Yet but Vendors Lining Up

Phase 1 construction of the Robotics Technology Park (RTP) in North Alabama is only halfway completed but the facility already has over 20 vendors and clients. RTP, a collaboration among the state of Alabama, Calhoun Community College, Alabama Industrial Development Training and robotics industry leaders across the U.S. When completed, the RTP will consist of three individual training facilities each targeted to a specific industry need. The 20 vendors committed to the $17.5 million first phase will supply robotics, welding, ground vehicle cameras, cranes and controllers for the training of Calhoun students and their own employees.

Hyundai Sets Production Record at Alabama Plant

Hyundai officials reported in April that the company's Montgomery, Ala. assembly plant produced approximately 28,000 vehicles in March, breaking the plant record of 27,150 vehicles set in May of 2007. The plant has provided workers with longer hours and extra days to help assemble the fast selling Montgomery-made vehicles.

Battery Recycling Plant Creates 125 Jobs in Tampa

Envirofocus Technologies announced in the spring it is expanding its battery recycling plant in East Tampa to boost its daily output of recycled lead acid batteries from 10,000 to 50,000 a day. The project will cost $100 million and add 125 workers.


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