My first awareness of the State of Georgia was through black and white movies where every Georgian seemed to be characterized as poorly educated and naive. Much has changed since then. Our prosperous and growing state has much to boast about, including the development of a movie industry which competes successfully with the sophisticates of Hollywood. Another new area of growth in Georgia is the manufacture of electric vehicles (EVs) and parts.
Accordingly, to Automotive World, “Georgia is perfectly positioned to be the epicenter of EV manufacturing.” Apparently, this positioning has been taking place since the mid-2010s. A Korean company, SK On, set up an EV battery manufacturing facility here in 2017. Since then, various EV parts manufacturers from around the world have developed manufacturing facilities in Georgia. The list includes TEKLAS (headquartered in Türkiye), GEDIA (a German company), and EnChem (based in South Korea).
The companies attracted are not just parts manufacturers. Two of the biggest investors are Hyundai and Rivian. The Hyundai Motor Group is planning a $5.545bn investment in an EV and battery manufacturing facility just outside Savannah. Rivian is committed to investing $5bn into a brand-new campus and manufacturing plant near I-20 on the east side of Atlanta. Local residents are not too happy but, provided legal challenges are overcome, the facility will have the capacity to produce 400,000 EVs a year.
The attractions of Georgia extend beyond our friendliness. The business environment is seen to be very supportive, perhaps best evidenced by the work of the Center of Innovation, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The presence of Georgia Tech, UGA, and other colleges produce a source of highly qualified industrial engineers. Georgia Tech even has its own Manufacturing Institute which helps develop new materials for ‘nanomaterial manufacturing’ processes. I think you have to be an engineer to understand nanomanufacturing, but it clearly involves advanced technology.
All these commitments to investing in our state come at a time when projected levels of EV production are running well ahead of any current demand. In fact, the implementation of plans for EV production are unusual for an industry with such enormous up-front capital costs. Typically, such huge investments would be stimulated by changes in the buying behavior of consumers even if those trends are still in the early phase. Stimulated in part by public attitudes about climate change and financial encouragement from the government, the motor vehicle manufacturing industry is laying down some huge bets on the future. There is already some speculation about whether the vehicle buying consumer, and the associated infrastructure for support and charging, will be ready for our roads to be taken over by EVs in the next decade. Time will tell…
What is not in doubt is the willingness of innovative companies across the globe to invest in Georgia. Maybe they never watched the movies I saw as a child, or maybe they know those movies were wrong to stigmatize the residents of our state.