Kentucky plant unveils electric vehicle expansion
A global auto parts supplier on Thursday announced a $ 51 million project adding 250 jobs at a rural Kentucky factory as part of an expansion linked to the auto industry’s plans to ramp up production of electric vehicles.
The increased production at the Firestone Industrial Products plant in Williamsburg will be largely directed towards the production of air suspension systems for electric vehicles.
“Advanced air suspensions are increasingly a staple technology in high-end electric vehicles, and Firestone is committed to maintaining its leadership in this exciting and important market,” said Emily Poladian, President of Firestone Industrial Products.
The company plans to launch the project soon, with completion slated for late next year.
Firestone opened its Whitley County operation in 1989. The Southeast Kentucky plant now employs more than 500 workers and produces approximately 4 million parts per year. The expansion will add 68,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new equipment and increase capacity.
“This company has been a significant business partner in our state for decades, and this investment by Firestone to support the emerging electric vehicle market ensures that this will continue to be the case for years to come,” said the Governor of Kentucky. Andy Beshear.
Ford said this week that it expects 40% of its global sales to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030, as it adds billions to what it spends to develop them. General Motors says it hopes to stop selling combustion vehicles by 2035.
President Joe Biden’s clean energy program includes a big increase in the number of electric vehicles as part of his plan to fight climate change.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority pre-approved on Thursday a performance-based deal providing Firestone with up to $ 6.5 million in tax incentives to meet long-term investment and employment goals, the office said. from Beshear.
These goals include paying an average hourly wage of $ 29, including benefits.
The company designs, tests and manufactures air suspensions at its factory in Williamsburg. The company’s air springs are assembled at its Dyersburg, Tennessee plant.
Firestone Industrial Products is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Inc.
Since 2020, Kentucky auto-related companies have announced 36 new settlement and expansion projects, totaling more than $ 360 million in investments that are expected to create more than 1,500 full-time jobs, said Thursday the governor’s office.
The Firestone expansion was one of four economic development projects announced by Beshear on Thursday. The projects represent a combined investment of nearly $ 273 million and will create a total of 505 jobs in Whitley, Shelby, Hardin and Fulton counties, the governor’s office said.
Beshear says Kentucky is on the verge of a strong economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We see more economic activity, we see more opportunities to move forward than ever in my lifetime,” the Democratic governor recently said.