Hyundai wants to construct a new factory in the United States to build electric vehicles, and is considering locating it in the great state of Georgia, where a political fight is raging. Rivian says it wants to build a new $5 billion factory there. To hear David Perdue — ex-senator and candidate for governor — tell it, new factories are a threat to local aquifers (as though the millions of pounds of fertilizer used every year to grow peaches, peanuts, and other agricultural products are somehow beneficial to the state’s precious groundwater).
According to Reuters, the company has already had discussions with officials in Georgia about adding a second factory in the Peach State near Savannah. The new facility would employ as many as 8,500 workers. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Governor Brian Kemp has made trips to South Korea to court investments in his state by Korean companies.
Hyundai Motor has confirmed it wants to build a new assembly plant but declined to provide any details about the location of that facility. “We are excited to announce a new EV plant plan in the United States soon, but we do not have details to share at this stage,” Hyundai said in a statement to Reuters.
Sources told Reuters The new factory in Georgia would manufacture both the Hyundai Ioniq 7 and Kia EV9 — 7-passenger battery-electric SUVs specifically designed to appeal to American drivers. Each is basically a battery-powered version of the Hyundai Telluride and Kia Palisade, the largest vehicles offered by either company. The final announcement will probably occur later this month when President Biden makes a scheduled trip to South Korea.
Hyundai has recently announced a $300 million investment to reconfigure its factory in Alabama to manufacture the battery-electric Genesis GV 70 and a hybrid version of the Santa Fe. The GV 70 will be Hyundai’s first EV made in the United States. Kia has said it will have 14 EVs by 2027. Hyundai has said it will roll out 17 by 2030, including 6 for its luxury Genesis brand.
SK Innovation, which supplies batteries to Hyundai and Kia, already has two battery factories in Georgia. One makes batteries for Volkswagen and started production earlier this year. The second will supply batteries to Ford, which is building a new dedicated EV manufacturing facility in Tennessee. Sources tell Reuters that SK On, a division of SK Innovation, will be the battery supplier for the Ioniq 7.
States often provide economic incentives to manufacturers to attract new investments, which can lead to job growth. Some work out. Nevada is just as pleased as punch with the deal it cut with Tesla to bring the first Gigafactory to what was once little more than a patch of empty desert. Wisconsin came up with a huge incentive package for Foxconn, which has saddled taxpayers with an enormous debt but few rewards.
The AJC says, “The incentive package that state officials would offer to land the Hyundai Motor expansion is not immediately clear, but it could rival the record-breaking $1.5 billion bounty of perks negotiated for Rivian, which includes free land, grants, tax credits , a workforce training center and infrastructure improvements.”
Kennesaw State University Economist JC Bradbury told the newspaper that state subsides are often given for projects that would have happened anyway. “Kia comes and brings a bunch of jobs and that’s great, but they come here, and they keep the profits, but Georgia taxpayers are paying for it. The question is, is it worth it?”
Georgia could be committing public resources to two major automotive manufacturers — Rivian (if Rivian survives) and Hyundai/Kia — in hopes they will create thousands of manufacturing jobs, transform rural stretches of the state, and keep the brainpower of graduates from top Georgia colleges in-state. “It’s the best thing since sliced bread,” state representative Al Williams said. The problem is, not all rural residents want to see their lifestyle altered.
The deal with Georgia and Hyundai Motor isn’t done yet. Governor Kemp is being challenged by the despicable ex-senator David Perdue, who has railed up the locals by posing as a supporter of rural voters. All politics is local, said former House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Rural voters who want to see their way of life preserved may have the final say on whether any new factory for Hyundai and Kia gets built.
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