Manufacturers face both opportunities and challenges in the rush to meet growing demand for electric vehicle (EV) technology, charging infrastructure, batteries, and raw materials such as lithium-ion, according to The Smart Factory Institute of Tennessee.
The trend is already triggering change and investment in the Southeastern states of the U.S. in particular, attendees said at the recent “2023 Electric Vehicle (EV) Battery Innovations Conference,” held yesterday in Cleveland, Tennessee.
“The southern U.S. region has captured over one-third of America's EV manufacturing investments and jobs, and regional EV sales in the South increased 50 percent over the past year,” Ben Stone, Director of Business Development for the Smart Factory Institute, said in a release. “As a military veteran and long-time veteran of the motive power battery industry, I know how important it is for our domestic security and from a global competitiveness perspective to ensure manufacturers succeed in this transition to electrification. The Smart Factory Institute is helping ease this transition by providing manufacturers across the Southeast and the nation access to the latest Industry 4.0 technology.”
Those impacts include a jump in investment, highlighted by battery manufacturers having committed nearly $33 billion regionally to expand production in a move anticipated to create over 40,000 jobs and touch six states’ economies – Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee—according to Denise Rice, President and CEO of Peak Performance, the operators of the Smart Factory Institute.
Another example is lithium and other raw materials producers that are also setting up shop in the South. One of these producers, Piedmont Lithium, says it is helping to solve battery materials issues by being a pioneer in the virtually non-existent lithium-ion supply chain in North America. “EV battery demand is expected to quadruple by 2025,” Malissa Gordon, Vice President for Government Affairs at Piedmont Lithium, said in a release. “Piedmont Lithium strategically located our lithium hydroxide processing facility in Tennessee and an integrated mining and processing facility in North Carolina. Both of these are located within the ‘Battery Belt’ – where battery and automotive plants are being constructed by prospective customers due to positive business climates with cooperative local and state governments, as well as access to excellent infrastructure with convenient rail, road, and river transportation.”