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Alabama auto sector races toward new milestones in 2023

Alabama’s auto industry is poised for another groundbreaking year in 2023, as companies deepen their commitment to electric vehicle production and other new technologies.

Both Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz continue to expand their lineup of EV models built in the state. Honda, meanwhile, plans updates for several Alabama-made models, while Mazda Toyota Manufacturing proceeds with its workforce development and hiring plans.

“Alabama’s automakers are forging ahead with ambitious growth strategies, with innovations that signal promising futures for their products, employees and the communities they call home,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“These companies have a proven track record of success — of adapting, reimagining and transforming what they offer to customers — and Alabama workers are helping to fulfill that mission in markets around the world.”

EV LAUNCH

In Montgomery, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama is celebrating the launch of the first Genesis Electrified GV70 SUV.

It’s the first Genesis model to be assembled outside of Korea, and it follows the launch of the Santa Fe hybrid SUV at the Alabama plant last year. Hyundai is investing $300 million and adding 200 jobs in Montgomery to support the move into EV technology.

Another prong in that effort is the construction of a $205 million, 400-job battery module plant in Montgomery by supplier Hyundai Mobis. That project is expected to be complete in 2025.

In addition to the Genesis launch, HMMA also plans model year changes for the Santa Cruz, Tucson and Santa Fe, said Hyundai spokesman Robert Burns. Total production at the plant reached 332,832 vehicles last year, up 14 percent from 2021.

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International last year began building two new EVs — the EQS SUV and the EQE SUV — at its Tuscaloosa County plant, part of a global strategy for the automaker.

Mercedes’ EV push in Alabama has been underway for more than five years, since the company announced it would spend $1 billion toward the effort, including the construction of a battery plant in Bibb County that opened last year.

Overall vehicle production at the plant totaled about 260,000 vehicles last year, on par with 2021. Employment grew to 6,300 workers, up from 4,500, over the same time period.

MORE MILESTONES

In Huntsville, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing continues to hit key milestones in the ramp-up of its $2.3 billion auto assembly plant.

Both SUVs in the plant’s lineup — the Toyota Corolla Cross and the Mazda CX-50 — have been in production there for more than a year. The company is still looking to hire up to 300 more employees to reach a goal of 4,000.

Honda’s Alabama Auto Plant in Talladega County closed out 2022 in a big way.

Workers launched production of a redesigned Pilot SUV that is the largest and most powerful SUV in the automaker’s history.

The updated model prompted upgrades to equipment and processes across the $3 billion Lincoln plant, representing the most manufacturing change points since the first-generation Pilot debuted in 2003.

In the coming year, Honda plans additional updates to the Passport SUV and the 2024 Ridgeline pickup to enhance rugged capability and design, according to a corporate outlook from the automaker.

The updates will include the first application of TrailSport to the Ridgeline. The TrailSport trim package features rugged styling and off-road capabilities.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

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