October 27, 2021

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How Tenn. became the top electric car producer in the south

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Ford Motor Company’s “Blue Oval City” project in West Tennessee is officially the largest in state history. The automaker plans to add a manufacturing facility that will make all electric Ford-F150s along with an electric car battery plant.

In just the last eight years, 150,000 electric cars have been made in Tennessee. Adding Ford to the mix will only make that number grow. But it also begs the question, why are automakers choosing Tennessee?

“It really probably goes back to Nissan,” Bob Rolfe, Tennessee commissioner of economic and community development, said in an interview with NewsChannel 5.

In 2013, the first electric car rolled off the assembly line at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna. It was the first spark of an electric revolution in Tennessee.

Since then, Volkswagen in Chattanooga and General Motors in Spring Hill have launched their own locally-made electric models.

But the new Ford Assembly plant will be the biggest. “This will go down as the largest project in the state of Tennessee’s history,” said Rolfe.

It’s a $5.6 billion investment, bringing 6,000 new jobs to rural Haywood County and the facility will only make electric vehicles. “Tennessee has attracted more than our fair share of wins, which we’re very excited about,” said Rolfe.

Rolfe credits Tennessee’s economy as the powerhouse behind this movement. “There’s no personal income tax, it’s the business-friendly nature of our state, it’s the fiscal responsibility and our fiscal balance sheet at the state,” he said.

But he also admits, massive incentives to Ford, paid by your tax dollars, definitely went a long way. “%500 million is an enormous incentive for any project,” said Rolfe.

Rolfe argues it’s worth every penny, between providing high-paying jobs for generations and the other businesses that major carmakers attract. “Then you have about a thousand – what I’ll call Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 suppliers that wrap around and support these automotive plants. So this is probably our largest advanced manufacturing driver across the state,” he said.

With that in mind, Rolfe hopes this surge continues. “We have positioned ourselves to win our fair share of these projects,” said Rolfe.

Meanwhile, you’re going to start seeing more electric vehicle charging stations around the area. The state plans to add another 50 stations in the next three to five years. That includes charging stations at all 56 state parks.

When it’s all said and done, that should amount to a charging station every 50 miles on Tennessee roadways.

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