SK and Hyundai plan electric vehicle battery plant in Georgia, 3,500 jobs

“Hyundai Motor Group and SK On are valued partners and key players in our state’s growing automotive industry,” Kemp said in the statement.

A Hyundai representative did not immediately return a message seeking comment. A spokesperson for SK On said the two companies are still reviewing options and discussing details of their cooperation and more details will be shared in the future.

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More than 548,000 electric vehicles were sold in the United States in the first nine months of this year, up 70% from the same period in 2021, according to automotive data firm Kelley Blue Book, which, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is a Cox Company of companies. Electric vehicles accounted for about 5.4% of all new car sales in the first three quarters of this year, up from 2.7% last year.

David Clayton, executive director of Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research, said from shipping logistics to attracting a workforce – especially in times of low unemployment – companies related to electric vehicles benefit from being grouped together in a region.

“The Southeast is growing in population, attracting people from across the country and around the world, which in a tight labor market is a good sign that businesses will find the workers they need,” said Clayton.

The federal government has strengthened incentives to produce more electric vehicles and batteries in the United States, with last year’s Inflation Reduction Act committing $369 billion to accelerate the country’s transition away from fossil fuels. Timothy Lieuwen, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute, said the law is driving increased investment in domestic manufacturing, even among foreign companies like Hyundai who have criticized aspects of the law for presenting short-term roadblocks. .

“It’s Exhibit A for what the IRA is trying to achieve,” he said of Bartow County’s announcement. “As a matter of industrial policy to stimulate investment, particularly in manufacturing investment in the United States, this indicates that it is working.”

Georgia, meanwhile, has positioned itself as a major player in electric vehicles, also hiring Rivian, which plans a $5 billion plant about an hour east of Atlanta where it will employ 7,500 people. .

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Hyundai opened its sprawling electric vehicle and battery plant along I-16 in Bryan County in October, where the company plans to hire 8,100 people and produce 300,000 electric vehicles a year in its first phase. . That figure is expected to reach 500,000 and involve several new electric vehicle models, company officials said.

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

State and local leaders touted Hyundai’s on-site jobs and investments as well as commitments to create thousands more jobs at Georgia suppliers to justify a record $1.8 billion incentive package. dollars for the Bryan County plant.

So far, two major Hyundai suppliers have announced plans to build factories near the Georgian coast.

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The Bartow County Battery Facility will likely command a similar package of incentives, including grants, tax breaks, infrastructure, and free worker training.

Some economists and watchdog groups have criticized lavish state and local incentives, saying these projects would go ahead without them. Left-leaning tax incentive watchdog Good Jobs First said it found states and local governments contributed some $13.8 billion in incentives to land at least 51 electric vehicle and battery factories. during the last years. Of that total, Georgia has committed some $3.3 billion to Hyundai and Rivian through various grants, tax credits, worker training, land and infrastructure.

Pat Wilson, the state’s economic development commissioner, told AJC that the state has been engaged with SK on this project for more than six months.

The company sought to expand its manufacturing capacity in the United States. The Biden administration wants to expand battery production in the United States, but much of the supply chain does not exist here and is dominated by China.

“We don’t produce enough batteries like we do in the United States,” Wilson said.

Wilson said SK and Hyundai would leverage the Georgia and Georgia Technical College System’s Quick Start worker training program to help staff at the future plant.

“Bartow is a metropolitan county, one of the fastest growing in the state,” Wilson said. “It’s a good place to provide the workers they need.”

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