The EV Industry is Taking Off in Georgia
Drivers across the globe are ready to plug in their vehicles, and the industry is gearing up to support this tectonic shift. The growth of the electric vehicle (EV) industry is on a rapid rise around the globe. The AJC reports that by 2030, the number of EVs on the road will skyrocket from 8.5 million to 116 million, which means 60% of all passenger vehicle miles traveled around the world will be in an EV.
The electrification of transportation spans all types of vehicles, from consumer cars to trucks, buses and entire fleets. An expansion of this size, speed and scope is expected to lead to more change and innovation in the next two decades than the auto industry has experienced in the previous century. And Georgia is playing a key role in the industry’s growth.
Building an EV Ecosystem
The state has laid the foundations for an EV ecosystem that has already attracted multibillion-dollar companies involved in the production, recycling and development of EV batteries. This should come as no surprise, as Georgia has long been a leader in the auto manufacturing industry. Home to more than 200 automotive-related facilities, the industry contributes more than $3B annually to the state’s economy.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Georgia and throughout the Southeast region are already shifting their product lines to keep up with the increasing production of EV vehicles. This trend will only expand as more suppliers flock to the region’s robust electric vehicle ecosystem.
Georgia is Fertile Ground for the EV Industry
Long celebrated as a business-friendly state with a competitive cost of doing business and lower-than-average cost of living, Georgia has the location, workforce and infrastructure to support the booming EV industry. Located in the epicenter of the Southeast’s rapid population growth, Georgia has the eighth highest population in the country and is home to nearly 20% of the region’s population. Reaching customers and suppliers for the EV industry is fast and efficient in Georgia as well.
Central Supplier Location
Located in the heart of the Southeast, Georgia is perfectly positioned to supply the region’s growing number of OEMs, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen. Home of the world’s busiest and most efficient airport, the second busiest port for roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) cargo and an extensive rail and highway infrastructure, Georgia is within a two-day drive or two-hour flight from 80% of the nation’s consumer markets.
Robust Manufacturing Workforce
As the population continues to rise, so too does the talent pipeline that feeds the manufacturing workforce. In 2021, Georgia boasted 977,000 production, maintenance and material moving workers. Of the state’s production workers, more than 40% have an associate degree or higher. There are a whopping 1.9 million students at educational institutions within a 250-mile radius from Atlanta.
A Leader in EV Innovation
Cutting-edge innovation is deeply rooted throughout the state. Take The Ray, for example, a smart road project supported by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Energy Technology. The 18-mile stretch of I-85 is designed to be a net-zero highway, with an emphasis on improved safety and ecology.
The state is also home to Georgia Tech, the nation’s number one industrial engineering program. The university is currently developing an initiative to advance next-generation mobility and smart city technology. Private companies and various educational institutions are teaming up with the state of Georgia to research numerous EV projects, including improving driver range, increasing recharging speeds, enhancing connectivity and improving AI for autonomous vehicles (AV).
EV Industry Leaders Choose Georgia
A steady stream of EV companies has already set up shop in Georgia over the past several years. In 2019, South Korea-based SK Innovations broke ground on two massive EV battery plants in Jackson County. The first plant of the $2.6 billion project is set to start commercial production early next year and is slated to produce enough batteries for 200,000 EVs. The plant will employ 1,000 employees by the end of the year and will hire 2,600 local workers by 2023.
More recently, Netherlands-based EV charging station leader Heliox announced that the company is opening its North American headquarters in Atlanta. The headquarters will include corporate offices along with a campus for research and development. Georgia’s highly educated pipeline of talent and its EV industry ecosystem were key factors that attracted the market leader.
And then there’s longtime Georgia school bus manufacturer, Blue Bird, which started making all-electric buses in 2018 and reported a 250% growth in sales from 2019 to 2020. Recently, Blue Bird hit a milestone: 500 electric-powered school buses have been delivered, or are on order. Blue Bird is the only school bus manufacturer that produces all three school-bus body configurations in EV, and the company expects its bus sales to continue to accelerate.
Several additional EV companies from Korea, Germany, Turkey and beyond have all opened EV manufacturing operations in Georgia, and more companies are on their way.
What’s Next for the State’s EV Industry?
Throughout Georgia, and across the country, the popularity of EVs is rising among the consumer base. There are nearly 30,000 EVs on the road in Georgia and more than 930 public charging stations. The state is committed to growing Georgia’s renewable portfolio by 250% within the next five years. Both Georgia Power and the local government are committed to supporting the growth of the local EV industry, for consumers and manufacturers alike. And private companies and universities are following suit.
This year, the University of Georgia (UGA) boasted the largest fleet of zero-emission electric buses of any university in the nation. Thirty-three EVs make up a third of UGA’s bus fleet, and the university has started to phase out diesel models. The campus currently has 12 charging stations that can charge up to 48 buses. As EVs of all sizes and capacities grow in popularity, there will be an increased need for EV charging stations across the state.
Georgia Power’s Commitment to Renewables
Currently, the sixth-largest market in the U.S. for EV fast charging, Georgia is committed to expanding its EV infrastructure to keep up with demand. Recently, Southern Company joined other utilities across the nation in the “Electric Highway Coalition” to increase charging options along major highway routes from Texas to Washington, D.C.
Georgia Power has installed 50 fast-charging stations statewide and is investing an additional $6 million over three years in fast-charging infrastructure. The utility company partnered with Cox Automotive Mobility to install one of the largest EV charging installations in the Southeast at the Pivet Atlanta facility, and supports 24 charging stall stations through Electrify America, Tesla and EVgo.
Georgia Power will also be electrifying portions of its own vehicle fleet as part of Southern Company’s goal to convert 50 percent of its system fleet vehicles to EVs by 2030. Beyond EVs, the power company has one of the largest voluntary renewable portfolios in the country. From Georgia Power’s utility support to government-backed initiatives, University research and resources from private companies, the state of Georgia is already well on its way to becoming a leader in the nation’s EV industry.