Hyundai Mobis announces EV powertrain plant near Georgia coast

A second major supplier to the future Hyundai Motor Group electric vehicle plant has announced plans to build a manufacturing facility with 1,500 more automotive jobs near the Georgia coast.

Hyundai Mobis said Wednesday it will build a factory in Richmond Hill in Bryan County, where it will build powertrain systems for vehicles that will supply not only the future Hyundai EV factory near Ellabell but provide components to the Kia factory in West Point and Hyundai’s plant in Alabama.

“When we celebrated the groundbreaking of Hyundai’s new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility in Bryan County, we knew it would unleash transformational job creation and investment in that entire region of our state,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a news release. “As we announce the second supplier in just two weeks to locate in that area, we’re excited to see their impact on the surrounding communities and the growing list of other job creators that will soon follow.”

Late last month, Hyundai broke ground on what it calls its Metaplant America, which it plans to open in 2025 along I-16 about 30 miles west of Savannah. Hyundai has said it plans to assemble 300,000 battery-powered Hyundai, Kia and Genesis vehicles a year in its first phase. That figure could grow to 500,000 units annually and involve several new models, a top executive said Oct. 25.

Hyundai promised to hire 8,100 workers at the EV plant, and state and local leaders have touted Hyundai’s on-site jobs and investment as well as commitments to bring thousands more jobs at suppliers around Georgia as justification for a record-breaking $1.8 billion incentive package.

The Hyundai Mobis recruitment is not unexpected. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media reported in October that the company was scouting sites in coastal Georgia for a factory to supply the Hyundai Metaplant. It will be Hyundai Mobis’ second Georgia facility, joining an automotive components factory it operates near the Kia plant in West Point.

Hyundai Mobis said it will build 900,000 EV power electric systems and 45,000 integrated charging control units per year at the new Richmond Hill facility. The $926 million plant will rise in the Belfast Commerce Park near I-95, about 40 minutes from the future Hyundai EV plant. Construction is expected to start in January and the plant is projected to open in 2024.

H.S. Oh, vice president of Hyundai Mobis’ electric powertrain business, said the company’s investment “reflects an acceleration in the development of the EV supply chain in Georgia’s auto industry.”

“We’re going to be a major production player in the EV market, and that’s going to trigger more growth within the sector,” Oh said. “Mobis is looking forward to providing high-quality work opportunities to the growing local workforce.”

Georgia has positioned itself to be a major player in EVs, also recruiting upstart Rivian, which plans a $5 billion factory about an hour east of Atlanta, where it will employ 7,500.

Incentive packages to Hyundai and Rivian alone total $3.3 billion in tax credits, land, infrastructure, worker training and other perks. In a recent report, left-leaning incentive watchdog Good Jobs First found states and local governments had contributed some $13.8 billion in incentives to land at least 51 EV and electric vehicle battery plants in recent years.

Details about potential incentives for Hyundai Mobis were not immediately released, but the company will likely qualify for various tax credits based on new jobs created and other investments.

In remarks during last month’s Hyundai groundbreaking ceremony, Kemp said the state has announced 30 electric mobility-related projects since 2020, totaling more than $13 billion in corporate investments and nearly 19,000 promised jobs. But those figures appear to be growing.

Earlier this month, Joon Georgia, a subsidiary of Ajin USA, said it will build a parts factory near Statesboro, where it will employ 630. Ajin USA supplies multiple Hyundai plants and makes vehicle body parts and electronics. The company said the new factory will open in 2024.

Hyundai Mobis has encountered controversy recently related to labor practices.

Allegations against Hyundai Mobis emerged over the summer, claiming that the company relies on low-wage workers from Mexico recruited via fake job offers. In a federal class-action lawsuit that was amended earlier this month, lawyers representing the Mexican workers accused the parts maker and two local labor recruiters of a “bait-and-switch” scheme. Workers say they were hired as engineers or technicians, but were put to work on factory floors performing “repetitive, production-line manual labor.”

A Mobis spokesman previously denied wrongdoing.

-Staff writer Lautaro Grinspan contributed to this report.