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EV investments ramp up across the American South

The shifting manufacturing landscape has pushed legislators to adopt EV rollout in slow-to-adopt states

(Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Electric vehicle manufacturing efforts have been marching south. In fact, EV manufacturing investments in the Southeast alone reached $54.6 billion in 2022 –– a 128% year-over-year increase, according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

In the last two quarters of 2022, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee all saw significant EV-related investments.

In west Tennessee, just outside of Memphis, Ford is building its new EV facility. This mega campus is envisioned to be a sustainable automotive manufacturing ecosystem. The $5.6 billion battery and vehicle manufacturing campus will be the largest in the Ford world — built for the next century.

While this shifting geographic concentration isn’t without its challenges, the change offers a range of benefits for both manufacturers — plentiful space and available infrastructure — and residents — employment opportunities and economic mobility. 

“The American South has been working for decades to attract automakers, laying veins of waterways and electrical lines and shoveling heaps of dirt to prepare the land for potential new factory megasites,” The Wall Street Journal reporter Nora Eckert noted in a recent article. “Local governments and technical institutes have partnered to train a new generation of manufacturing workers, including in automotive, even before some of the first construction beams were erected.” 

This southward shift will also continue to have noticeable effects on former manufacturing strongholds, both in the United States and abroad, as well as an anticipated shift in logistics patterns for the East and Gulf coasts and cross-border operations. 

“We are experiencing shifting economic power — and shifting freight patterns — within the United States,” said Bill Dunavant of Dunavant Logistics.

“We anticipate that the impact on our Southeast port locations will be significant in a positive way,” said Chrissy Geibel, COO of Dunavant. “We also see a positive impact on our cross-border Mexico operations as near-shoring continues to grow significantly as well.”

Several ports on the East Coast and in Mobile, Alabama, have already announced aggressive expansion plans to respond to the shifting manufacturing and logistics dynamics of today. 

Additionally, the movement of EV-related manufacturing operations is also poised to quicken legislative efforts to make electric vehicle infrastructure and commercial ownership more accessible across the South. 

“With all the EV-related manufacturing coming to the region, pressure is mounting in state houses to pass legislation that removes barriers and supports the expansion of EV charging infrastructure and EV ownership for consumers and fleet operators, so the products that companies are increasingly making in the Southeast can be purchased and driven by consumers and companies in the Southeast,” Stan Cross, electric transportation policy director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said in a recent blog post

Several Southern states have already hinted at their openness to adopting EV-friendly regulations in the near term. These efforts will support the nationwide adoption of these vehicles as fleets across the nation work to prepare for impending zero-emission regulations in other regions of the country.

As the adoption of EVs continues to grow, the evolution of electric transport at scale increases, but given the load needs required for that to be realistic, the importance of proximity and location to facilities becomes even more apparent.

“The only constant in logistics is change,” continued Dunavant. “In order to be an effective solution for our clients, we remain flexible, adaptable and prepared for the ever-changing landscape.” 

Click here to learn more about Dunavant.

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She works with clients to develop sponsored content that tells a story. She worked as reporter and editor at FreightWaves before taking on her current role as Senior Content Marketing Writer. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.