Mid-Year Auto Production Places Kentucky Third in Nation
Consider this: if every car and truck produced in Kentucky this year represented a person, those newly-produced vehicles would rival the population of Jefferson County.
It should be no surprise, then, that this growth has added to Kentucky’s reputation as an automotive powerhouse. The state ranks third in the nation for midyear auto production numbers – and is on pace to crush last year’s production tally of more than one million vehicles, state officials say.
With more than 657,000 vehicles produced so far in 2013, Kentucky trails only Ohio and Michigan as a top vehicle producing state. On a per capita basis, Kentucky ranks first in light vehicle production in 2013.
“This is good news for Kentucky, not just for the folks in our automotive industry, but for all of us. More production means more jobs, more investment and ultimately a stronger economy here in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Steve Beshear.
With 657,587 light vehicles produced by midyear, Kentucky is outperforming last year’s total at this time (478,110 vehicles) by more than 37 percent. The state is on pace to produce about 290,000 more vehicles than last year’s total of 1,025,730, which was the highest output in Kentucky in five years.
Kentucky’s automotive industry today boasts more than 450 motor vehicle-related facilities across the state, including four major assembly plants: Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Toyota’s Georgetown operation, which is the company’s largest production plant outside of Japan, and the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant, which has been the exclusive home of the iconic Corvette since 1981.
Kentucky’s midyear 2013 ranking of third in the nation sustains its recent history of gains in production and national ranking. The Commonwealth rated fourth overall in 2012 for auto production and fifth in 2011.
With a recent $1.2 billion investment in its two Louisville plants, Ford has ramped up production in Kentucky, especially with the popular Ford Escape, which grew from a production of 40,943 in the middle of 2012 to more than 198,000 so far this year. Production numbers are also up for the Expedition, the F-Series Super Duty, and the Navigator, which are all made in Kentucky.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) is investing more than $531 million to add new vehicle production and assembly lines in Georgetown, where the company produces the Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid and the Venza.
General Motors’ investment of $131 million to retool the Bowling Green Corvette Plant will also mean increased production. The enhancements to the plant have resulted in a slowdown with 3,155 vehicles this year compared to 7,784 this time last year, but the numbers should increase when production of the highly-anticipated 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray goes into high gear.
A driving force
Ford’s production continues to grow in Louisville. The company announced in late 2010 it would transform the Louisville Assembly Plant into the company’s most flexible high-volume plant in the world, adding a second shift and 1,800 new jobs at the plant. In fall 2011, Ford brought a third shift and another 1,300 jobs to LAP. Ford unveiled the revamped plant last year and announced it would employ approximately 4,500 workers on three crews. Today, the plant has the flexibility and capability to produce six different types of vehicles at the same time.
More production is on the way for Toyota. Earlier this year, Toyota announced it will produce about 50,000 Lexus ES 350 vehicles a year at its Georgetown plant, starting in 2015. The Lexus expansion represents a $360 million investment and will create 750 new jobs in the Commonwealth. Toyota is investing an additional $171.2 million in other plant refurbishments. The addition of about 50,000 Lexus vehicles a year will bring TMMK’s annual production capacity to more than 550,000 vehicles by 2015.
In addition to the retooling of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, General Motors announced it will move its Performance Build Center, which specializes in hand-built, high performance engines for the Corvette and Camaro, from Michigan to Bowling Green. The move is set for the first quarter of 2014 and is backed by a $3.5 million investment.
Source: news release
Photo: Ford plant in Louisville/provided