The EV Frenzy Is Reshaping Southern Towns

By: Anneken Tappe · September 01, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Motor City 2.0

In the 1940s, a surge of investment led by Ford (F), Chrysler (STLA), and General Motors (GM) reshaped Detroit into the “Motor City.” Decades later, a similar scenario is playing out down south as major automakers invest billions of dollars to build new electric vehicle factories in states like Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

With thousands of new factory workers relocating into once-sleepy rural towns, economic activity is now surging across the American South.

Flying South

One thing that’s drawing automakers to the South is lower energy costs thanks to the proximity of shale drilling operations. This is critical for all new factories — but it will be especially important for battery-making facilities, which can use as much as five times more energy than traditional plants.

One example of a town that’s being revamped is Stanton, Tennessee. This small town of just 400 people will now play host to one of Ford’s newest EV plants. The factory alone will employ 6,000 workers — roughly 15 times the size of Stanton.

Progress or Pandemonium?

Carmakers have invested billions into the transitions to electric vehicles. The Center for Automotive Research estimates half the industry’s spend will end up in the South.

But a mass influx of industry, workers, and residents is already putting pressure on the infrastructure of towns like Stanton. Towns must rush to accommodate new workers by building homes and expanding public facilities, including school systems and police forces.

However, despite the rush, the EV migration has already been a boon. Business owners and landlords are welcoming the arrival of the construction crews. Meanwhile, the states themselves have invested in upskilling these workforces. The state of Georgia sent workers to Asia to train at Hyundai (HYMTF) plants as the company builds a battery facility in Ellabell outside Savannah.

The industrial r-EV-olution appears to be surging forward and striking south.

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