New Plant Plans Highlight Strengths In The US Auto Industry

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan
new plant plans highlight strengths in the us auto industry

One of the most overlooked arguments during last year’s bailout debates was the fact that America’s automotive industry was not under threat. Sure, a few companies based in Detroit were panhandling at death’s door, but so-called “import brands” have been closing the gap in terms of Americans employed for years. And America’s transplant auto industry is continuing to grow. Even as the Detroit firms have slimmed down their North American manufacturing footprints, foreign firms are moving ahead with American and NAFTA-area plants despite the economic downturn. Not only do these moves signify possible new jobs, they also represent a long-term bet on the fundamental strength of the US economy.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that over 65000 people applied for the 2000 jobs which the Volkswagen are creating in their new factory. One of the residents, Pamela Glant, applied for a production job in order to improve her standard of living. “I think I could do the work and I’d like to be tested” she said. Perhaps Ms. Glant should talk to DCX-era Chrysler employees to find out how “testing” German bosses can be. But national reputations aside, 35000 people applied for the VW plant’s 1200 production jobs and 30000 people applied for one of the 800 maintenance positions. “We are overwhelmed by the response and we are very satisfied with the result,” said Hans-Herbert Jagla, executive vice president of human resources for VW’s Chattanooga operations. “It gives us the confidence that we will be able to hire all the capable and flexible people we need to build our cars safely and with the highest quality.”. Feel free to add your own snarky comment about the use of “VW” and “quality” in the same sentence here.

Not to be outdone, Norwegian electric car maker “Think Global” looking in Indiana for a location for a manufacturing plant, Reuters reports. Charles Gassenheimer, chairman and CEO of Ener1 Inc., a lithium Ion battery manufacturer, said that the exact location and other details will be announced in a few weeks. Ener1 Inc. has a 31% stake in the Think Global. Mr Gassenheimer also disclosed that Think Global have applied for a US Government loan under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan programme, along with nearly every other dedicated EV firm.

Meanwhile, in addition to opening a new Kia plant in Alabama, Hyundai are taking firm advantage of NAFTA by scouting the site for another new plant in Mexico. Insideline reports that Promexico, a government agency that promotes exports and foreign investment, have disclosed that negotiations with Hyundai are already in progress. The main contender for Hyundai’s new plants is the Mexican state of Veracruz, possibly because of marketing opportunities for the Hyundai Veracruz. The report finishes with the author, Loriana Marietta, saying “Hyundai moves ever closer to matching Japan’s strength in the North American market.” Since Hyundai are determined to follow in Toyota’s footsteps, lets hope they don’t move into the next stage of Toyota’s method, over-expansion.

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Nov 19, 2009

    It's a pipe dream to expect anybody to move into the vacant factories of Michigan/Detroit until the people correct the governance issues that are the cause of the exodus. Detroit City Hall is totally dysfunctional and in need of an overhaul, and the Michigan legislature is in no way equipped to manage the state, let alone step in to overhaul the government of Detroit. Like other states, Michigan spends too much money and has too high a level of taxation. The legislature is so addicted to taxes that when they enacted a tax cut on business, they created a tax on services to cover the cost. That tax was such a mess that it had to be rescinded as unenforceable. How did they cover the shortfall caused by the tax break on business? They raised the tax on business! Until the voters of Detroit AND Michigan throw everybody out and elect people with fiscal sanity, no corporate leaders will ever decide to relocate there, even with a right to work law.

  • Freddie Freddie on Nov 19, 2009

    Chevy Camaro. American icon. Designed in Austrailia, built in Canada. I feel very patriotic in my Alabama Hyundai.

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  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...