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Hyundai, LG Plan to Build $4.3B EV Battery Plant Near Savannah, Ga.

Wed May 31, 2023 - Southeast Edition #12
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hyundai and LG Energy Solution are partnering on a new $4.3 billion EV battery production facility just outside Savannah, Ga. (Hyundai photo)
Hyundai and LG Energy Solution are partnering on a new $4.3 billion EV battery production facility just outside Savannah, Ga. (Hyundai photo)

Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solutions announced plans May 25 to spend $4.3 billion to build an EV battery manufacturing plant in Bryan County near Savannah as part of the largest economic development project in Georgia history.

The project would be built adjacent to Hyundai's massive electric vehicle Metaplant under construction in Ellabell, and state officials say it would be part of the company's previously announced plan to spend $5.5 billion on the new complex and create 8,100 jobs.

The South Korean-based companies said the battery plant would account for 3,000 of those jobs and the batteries made at the forthcoming factory will power Hyundai, Kia and Genesis models produced at U.S. facilities, the companies noted in a news release.

In a statement, Hyundai Motor Chief Executive Jaehoon Chang said the company is focusing on efforts to produce electric vehicles in North America and this project would help "create a strong foundation to lead the global EV transition."

The Bryan County plant is expected to break ground later this year and will begin battery production toward the end of 2025, the Atlanta newspaper noted. Once complete, the facility will be able to build enough batteries each year for 300,000 electric vehicles.

Georgia Home to Several EV Battery Factories

Hyundai is already developing another major battery plant in Georgia. The automaker and a subsidiary of SK Innovation said in December they would build a factory near Cartersville that could total $5 billion in future investment and create 3,500 jobs.

The latest development adds to a spree of EV manufacturing plants and battery facilities that have already opened in Georgia or are heading to the state.

Rivian is building a $5 billion EV factory about an hour east of Atlanta. Dozens of parts and materials suppliers are also opening plants in the state to feed the growing EV ecosystem, and state officials say they have a pipeline brimming with other projects they aim to recruit.

The new projects also build on close ties between Georgia and South Korean officials. Gov. Brian Kemp made South Korea the site of his first overseas trade mission in 2019, and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has embarked on two official trips there, including one in April.

Georgia lured the Hyundai plant last year with a package of $1.8 billion in tax breaks and other incentives, shattering the previous state record. It was not immediately clear if any additional inducements were offered to Hyundai and LG to finalize plans for the battery plant, the Journal-Constitution noted.

Peach State Becoming Green Hub

Georgia leaders quickly praised the new plant as a showcase of the strength of the state's evolving economy, though they differed sharply on what led the firms to pick Georgia.

Ossoff, a Democrat, said the landmark climate and healthcare law that President Joe Biden signed into law last year was key to securing the investment. The law includes billions in investment and production tax credits for EV and battery manufacturers.

"The IRA's manufacturing incentives continue to bring jobs and investment to Georgia," Ossoff said, referring to the Inflation Reduction Act. "My goal remains to make Georgia the world leader in advanced energy production."

Kemp credited "the strong partnerships carefully built on the state level" with the two firms. He and other state officials said Hyundai and LG's announcement offered the final details of a project that was outlined before the federal tax measure was signed into law.

"This is exactly what we envisioned when Georgia landed the Hyundai Metaplant in May of [2022], and this project is the latest milestone in Georgia's path to becoming the EV capital of the nation," Kemp said.

Clean Energy Incentives Have Made Georgia More Attractive

Georgia officials have recruited a string of massive projects tied to the transition away from fossil fuels, including a major expansion of solar giant Hanwha Qcells, another Korean manufacturer. But they have differed over the impact of the federal tax and climate measure, which passed the U.S. Congress without Republican support.

Kemp recently told the Journal-Constitution that he supported a repeal of the legislation, which he said should "never have passed to start with." But he said that Biden should at least tweak regulations to allow Hyundai and other manufacturers with projects underway to benefit from the breaks.

That refers to a provision in the law that would require all EVs to undergo final assembly in North America to qualify for a $7,500 customer tax break. Since Hyundai's Georgia auto factory will not be operational until 2025, customers could lose out on the break until then.

In a recent interview with the Journal-Constitution, Ossoff said both parties should rejoice over clean energy incentives that have made Georgia a magnet for the industry. And he said Hyundai can take advantage of the breaks as soon as it begins production of the vehicles in the state.

"Georgia has benefited more than just about any other state in the country from these manufacturing incentives," Ossoff explained. "We should be celebrating that rather than politicizing it, because Georgia's economic development should be a team sport and not a political contest."

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