Meta-Charged Up

A battery joint venture accounts for most of the $5.54 billion investment in Hyundai’s Bryan County plant.

The electric vehicle industry continues to rise across Georgia, from batteries in the southeast and synthetic graphite for those batteries in the southwest to a testing facility in the north. But nothing is simple for a company making electric school buses in the middle of the state. 

LG Joins Hyundai Pack 

A joint venture announced May 25 will produce many of the batteries powering the electric vehicles to be built at the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America in Bryan County. 

South Korea’s Hyundai and LG Energy Solution are equal partners in the lithium-ion battery cell plant being built next to the EV manufacturing facility Hyundai announced in May 2022 and broke ground on in October. 

Georgia officials say the $4.3 billion investment and 3,000 jobs at the battery plant are part of the $5.54 billion and 8,100 jobs Hyundai has promised for Metaplant America. The partners say the facility will produce enough battery cells for 300,000 vehicles per year when it begins operations in late 2025. 

Hyundai Mobis, a Hyundai subsidiary, will assemble the cells into battery packs for the plant next door and possibly other Hyundai sites, including Kia’s West Point facility, which will build the EV9 electric SUV. 

“Two strong leaders in the auto and battery industries have joined hands, and together we are ready to drive the EV transition in America,” LG Energy Solution CEO Youngsoo Kwan said at the announcement in Seoul.  

Hyundai has said Metaplant America will start operations in early 2025 and will have an annual capacity of 500,000 EVs. It also will receive batteries from a $4.5 billion plant Hyundai is building with SK On in Cartersville. 

The wave of Korean companies coming to Georgia to supply Metaplant America also includes Hanon Systems, which announced in May that it will spend $40 million on a Bulloch County plant building systems to keep EVs from overheating. The facility is expected to create 160 jobs. 

Since 2020, more than 40 EV-related projects have been announced across Georgia, representing a total investment of more than $22.7 billion and 28,400 expected jobs, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

More Than Pencil Lead 

Chicago-based Anovion Technologies will produce a crucial component of EV batteries in Bainbridge and in the process will create 400 jobs, the company announced on May 15. 

The 1.5-million-square-foot, $800 million Decatur County facility, due to open in late 2025, will make synthetic graphite, the core of an EV battery’s negatively charged anode and the biggest ingredient in a lithium-ion battery by weight. China dominates global graphite production, and the United States has no mining of the natural mineral, a crystallized form of carbon. 

Anovion makes synthetic graphite from waste left when oil is processed, CEO Eric Stopka says. Bainbridge provides access to Gulf Coast suppliers of that material and to potential customers among Georgia’s growing number of battery manufacturers. 

Anovion intends to make 40,000 tons of synthetic graphite per year in Bainbridge, enough for about 500,000 EVs with current battery technology. The plant will account for more than a quarter of the 150,000 tons Anovion hopes to produce annually after a multiyear company expansion. The plant is the company’s first large-scale use of proprietary technology it honed at a pilot project near Niagara Falls. 

More EV Updates 

New York-based ABM Industries is addressing the infrastructure to support an EV-heavy future with a Forsyth County electrification center announced May 11. 

Being built at the Cumming home of an ABM subsidiary, microgrid supplier RavenVolt, the center will provide training, testing, and storage for EV chargers and equipment. ABM, which has installed almost 30,000 vehicle chargers nationwide, says the facility will help ensure that vehicles, components, and chargers from different companies can work together. 

Meanwhile, Rivian took a step toward making its $5 billion electric truck plant in Walton and Morgan counties a reality when it hired Anthony Sanger in May as vice president of facilities to oversee the construction. 

Many Shades of Blue 

School bus manufacturer Blue Bird has had an interesting spring. 

The Fort Valley-based company is making inroads with its electric-powered buses, driven in part by federal funding for school districts to reduce bus emissions. 

After announcing its largest electric order in late April—60 buses for Broward County, Florida—the company opened a dedicated assembly center on May 25 to increase its daily capacity from four to 20 electric buses. 

Its order backlog of nearly 5,800 buses includes 620 EVs, Blue Bird reported on May 11 while revealing rising sales and profits in the fiscal quarter that ended on April 1. 

The next day, Blue Bird’s roughly 1,400 hourly workers voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers, earning a congratulatory statement from President Joe Biden. 

CEO and President Matthew Stevenson then left the company after less than two years and jumped to Kentucky vehicle parts maker Holley. His immediate predecessor, Phil Horlock, returned as CEO and president May 15. 

Blue Bird also is dealing with a discrimination complaint that two former employees filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to a May 18 Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. 

Big Men on Campus 

Kennesaw State University announced on May 5 that Hazem Rashed-Ali will become dean of the College of Architecture and Construction Management on July 1. He succeeds Andrew Phillip Payne, the dean since 2020. 

Rashed-Ali comes from Texas Tech University, where he has been the associate dean of research and innovation at the architecture school.  

Also starting July 1 is the new CEO of Emory Healthcare, Joon Sup Lee. A cardiologist by training, Lee is the executive vice president of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and president of UPMC Physician Services. He succeeds Jonathan Lewin, who since 2016 has led an organization that now comprises 11 hospitals, 250 provider locations, and 24,000 employees. Lewin is returning to teaching.

Willkommen, Falcons 

The NFL has awarded the Atlanta Falcons the right to market themselves in Germany to develop a local fan base through its Global Markets Program, which involves such elements as localized digital content, game watch parties, and marketing partnerships. 

The Falcons join two other NFC South teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers, in treating Germany as a home market, while the archrival New Orleans Saints have staked out France. Also operating in Germany are the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots.

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