Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower
Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.
Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.
Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.
Toyota’s Huntsville engine plant also maintained its role as a critical component of the automaker’s global supply chain. Additionally, Navistar builds truck engines in Huntsville.
“Alabama’s skilled auto workers have become adept at not only producing high-quality, in-demand vehicles, but also the engines that power those models and others,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“We look forward to their continued success as these companies invest even more resources and add new technology to their operations here.”
Last year, Hyundai announced a $388 million plan to construct a plant dedicated to manufacturing engine heads and enhance existing operations to support production of new models of Sonata and Elantra sedans. The investment will create 50 jobs.
Preparations are under way for the next-generation Theta III engine, which requires new technologies and components as part of its assembly process.
So far, the new engine head manufacturing building shell and concrete is complete, electrical work is underway and equipment for the building has begun to arrive.
The project is still on track to be complete by May, said Hyundai spokesman Robert Burns.
In addition, the old equipment has been removed from the existing engine shop that is being updated, and contractors are prepping the interior of the building for new equipment.
Hyundai’s Alabama engine operations support vehicle production in Montgomery and at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia.
Meanwhile, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama last year produced 356,439 engines that power the SUVs, minivans and pickups built at the Talladega County factory.
Just a few years ago, Honda Alabama opened a sophisticated new engine line that represented a breakthrough in Honda’s North American engine assembly operations.
The highly automated line was yet another indication of the global automaker’s confidence in the Alabama workforce, which has achieved an unprecedented schedule of new model launches and redesigns in recent years.
In Huntsville, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama produced about 630,000 engines that power one-third of the Toyota vehicles built in the U.S.
The facility currently builds about 2,600 engines per day, or five times as many engines since production started there in 2003.
Two keys milestones for Toyota Alabama last year included its 6 millionth engine, built in August 2018.
And the following month, the facility launched a new advanced 4-cylinder engine line to produce next-generation engines as part of the Toyota New Global Architecture Program.
TNGA will improve the performance of all vehicles, including increased fuel efficiency, more responsive handling and a more stable and comfortable feel while driving. It also provides a more flexible production environment that allows the company to better respond to changing market demands.
Toyota Alabama’s $106 million investment in the TNGA project increased total plant investment to nearly $1 billion.
“I could not be prouder to reach this milestone,” Toyota Alabama President David Fernandes said at the time. “Launching our new TNGA engine is a true testament to our highly-skilled workforce. They are leading Toyota Alabama into the future of advanced engine production.”
(Courtesy Made In Alabama)