Alabama Nears the Top in Automotive Manufacturing

Alabama’s major automotive manufacturers greeted the state’s 200thanniversary year with solid 2018 production numbers and have Alabama on track in just a quarter century to become the nation’s No. 2 automaker by 2022, the state’s leading economic developer said.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said Alabama has become a top vehicle producer since Mercedes-Benz U.S. International first rolled an SUV off the Vance production line 22 years ago.

“Because prior to 1997, we didn’t produce a single vehicle,” Alabama News Center quoted Canfield at the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s winter meeting.

He said every journal and article says Alabama is No. 5 in vehicle production. “We actually believe that based on the numbers that Alabama is most likely the fourth largest vehicle-producing state,” Canfield said.

That’s going to increase, he said. “We expect that by 2022, if the numbers hold and the forecast is true, Alabama will take the position as the No. 2 vehicle-producing state in the U.S. and that’s an amazing feat,” Canfield said.

Business Council of Alabama members Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama all made number statements in 2018, setting the stage for continued excellence this year.

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama at the Lincoln plant in Talladega County made 356,439 SUVs, minivans, and pickups, a record for the second straight year.

The Lincoln plant makes the Honda Pilot, Odyssey minivans, the Ridgeline pickup truck, and the new 2019 Honda Passport. Honda has invested more than $2.6 billion and employs more than 4,500 men and women.

Last year, HMA finished nearly 400,000 sq. ft. of new logistics space – an investment of $85 million – and announced an additional $54.8 million investment to improve weld operations.

Hyundai employees in Montgomery made 322,500 vehicles in 2018, the Department of Commerce’s website, Made in Alabama, reported.

Hyundai last year announced a $388 million technology upgrade. The investment in an engine shop and engine head machining capabilities is the largest expansion since the plant began production 14 years ago. The investment will support engine production for Hyundai vehicles made in Montgomery and Kia-brand vehicles made at West Point, Ga.

Hyundai has invested $1.8 billion in its facility and employs 3,200 full- and part-time workers.

Mercedes-Benz started Alabama’s automobile renaissance in 1997 when its first SUVs moved into showrooms from the manufacturing plant in Vance.

The company has invested nearly $6 billion in Tuscaloosa County and recently announced a $1 billion investment in an overseas market consolidation center and battery factory in nearby Woodstock in Bibb County, and to spark production of electric vehicles at Vance.

Mercedes currently employs more than 3,700 men and women with another 600 potential jobs in the works due to the newly announced expansion.

About two of every three of the 300,000 or so vehicles made in Vance each year are shipped to buyers in more than 135 countries. More than 3 million vehicles have been made in Vance since 1997.

Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville keeps on rolling. Since Toyota’s Huntsville startup in 2003, more than 6 million engines have been made there, including 630,000 last year.

Toyota in Huntsville makes engines for the RAV4, Highlander, Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia models. A Huntsville engine powers one-third of Toyota vehicles built in the U.S. and Toyota has announced a new generation advanced 4-cylinder engine line.

“They are leading Toyota Alabama into the future of advanced engine production.” Toyota Alabama President David Fernandes said

The recent Toyota Alabama $106 million investment increases the company’s investment to nearly $1 billion in north Alabama.

A few miles to the west of the Huntsville Toyota plant towards Athens, construction began late last year on the $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. joint-venture. It promises 4,000 jobs and the capacity to make 300,000 vehicles per year at full production.

Canfield said Alabama could be the nation’s second largest auto-producing state in three years. “We look forward to their continued success as these companies invest even more resources and add new technology to their operations here,” Canfield said.