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 Southern Auto Corridor News

June 9, 2009

Progress Energy and Nissan Sign Electric Car Agreement

Raleigh-based Progress Energy and Nissan have struck up a deal that is designed to introduce electric cars to Raleigh as a testing ground for the Japanese automaker's new electric vehicles (EVs). The agreement states that Nissan and Progress will work together to ensure that the utility's power grid will be compatible with the automaker's next generation vehicles. The goal that the two companies have set is to develop and build 10 charging stations for the EVs in downtown Raleigh within a year. Nissan will provide Progress Energy with several EVs for testing purposes.

Assembly Plant Total in the South Dropping to 16 - Chrysler Closing St. Louis North Plant, GM Closing Tennessee Factory

As part of its plan for a quick restructuring under Chapter 11 protection, Chrysler announced it is closing one of its plants in the Southern Automotive Corridor. The Michigan-based automaker will close the St. Louis North assembly plant in Missouri in 2010. The plant builds Dodge Ram models and houses about 1,200 workers. Also, in early June, GM filed for bankruptcy and announced it will close its Spring Hill, Tenn. (the old Saturn plant) facility in the fall quarter. That plant (2,500 employees) began making the Chevrolet Traverse last year after undergoing a $950 million retooling. Production of the Traverse is moving to Lansing, Mich. GM officials said the Tennessee plant will remain on "standby" and could reopen later. The closures, the first in the South since two domestic plants closed in Georgia in 2006 and 2008 (GM and Ford), means that there will soon be just 16 major auto assembly plants operating in the South. In addition, there are two that are being built (Kia in Georgia and Volkswagen in Tennessee) and one completed plant (Toyota in Mississippi) that is either waiting on economic conditions to improve before it opens or it is being shelved and sold to another user or to the State of Mississippi.

Continental Lays off Huntsville Workers

Extended assembly plant downtime at Chrysler is having rippling effects in the Southern Auto Corridor. The Continental Automotive plant in Huntsville, Ala. temporarily dismissed about 380 workers in May. The Michigan-based company could not give a time table of when the workers will be brought back.

Kansas, Goodyear Agree on Proposal for Topeka Plant

In the spring quarter, The Kansas Department of Commerce announced that it will provide up to $14.2 million in training incentives to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., allowing the company to make capital investments of up to $250 million at its Topeka plant and retain up to 1,400 employees for 10 years.

Maremont Adds Shift in Tennessee

Aftermarket exhaust manufacturer Maremont has added 50 workers at its plant in Loudoun, Tenn. The automotive parts company has operated its muffler factory for over 40 years in Loudoun. The expansion brings Maremont's employment to 350 in East Tennessee.


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