In the second part of Automotive Insights, sponsored by Omni-ID, we’re talking how reshoring and the Southeast’s rise is changing American automaking. Over the last few years, the automotive industry has seen more foreign manufacturers, like Toyota, Honda, and Volkswagen, establishing manufacturing operations here in the U.S. While that's not completely surprising, considering that it's far cheaper to manufacture close to the customer rather than from around the world, in Japan or Germany, what has been game-changing for many is their decision of where in the U.S. to manufacture. Instead of landing in traditional areas like Michigan, Indiana and Ohio — the classic "Rust Belt" states — that have been building cars for decades, these foreign companies tended toward the South, changing the landscape in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and others.
Unions are one big part of the equation (unionization levels are far less down in the South, and a majority of the states have right-to-work legislation), but that doesn't recognize the inherent talents in the South's workforce. The top U.S. executive at Kia told Manufacturing.net that workers in Georgia are hard-working and disciplined, and many of them actually have manfuacturing experience, from the textile industry that has largely shuttered and left the U.S. In fact, many of them were looking for jobs, which meant Kia had a wealth of employees to work with.
Does that mean the Big 3 have decided to put more weight in the Southern states during this most recent round of facilities investments? Or are they going to stick with the states that made them into what they are today? Check out the video above to find out.