BEREA – Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday joined Berea community leaders and officials from Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. to announce the company has selected the community for its third Kentucky manufacturing facility. The new plant, which will produce electric drive motors for hybrid and electric vehicles, will create 130 new jobs and a more than $74.5 million investment in Kentucky.
“Hitachi is a shining star in Kentucky’s automotive industry,” Gov. Beshear said. “Not only will this latest expansion bring Hitachi’s Berea workforce to more than 1,070, it also enhances Kentucky’s profile in the advanced hybrid automotive industry. We’re positioning Kentucky to become the epicenter of the advanced automotive manufacturing industry, and strong relationships with companies like Hitachi are a cornerstone of our success.”
Hitachi, which has existing locations in Harrodsburg and Berea, has purchased a 151,000 square-foot facility on 65 acres in Berea for its latest project. The plant, which used to produce electrical products, will be totally retooled and will now manufacture motors that will power advanced hybrid electric powered automobiles, including the Chevy Volt.
Additionally, Hitachi’s future plans include the production of other hybrid vehicle products like lithium-ion batteries and electric inverters to be manufactured in its Kentucky plants.
Hitachi also announced an expansion of its Harrodsburg plant in the fall of 2009, following the governor’s economic development trip to Japan. During the trip, Beshear met with Hitachi officials to discuss numerous possibilities for the company’s growth in the Commonwealth. The project, which later grew significantly in scope, represents a $68 million investment and 145 new jobs in Harrodsburg.
Operations at the new plant in Berea are expected to begin in late 2011, with plans to ship the first electric motors from its Madison County factory in mid-2012.
“Hitachi is one of the few automotive suppliers with the capability to develop and produce our own lithium-ion batteries, electric drive motors and the electronic controls needed to manage hybrid electric vehicles,” Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas President Mark Fujisawa said in a press release. “We are thrilled to open this new factory that will provide increased employment opportunities for the state coupled with spearheading Hitachi’s manufacturing of hybrid electric vehicle motors for U.S. customers.”
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved Hitachi for tax incentives up to $4 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program.