1:23pm

Mon October 17, 2011
Business and the Economy

Hybrid Vehicle Production to Begin at Harrodsburg Plant

Community leaders and officials from Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. announced Monday the company has selected its Mercer County plant as the site of its North American lithium-ion battery packs production.

It's Hitachi’s fourth announcement of new jobs and investment in Kentucky since 2009, when Gov. Steve Beshear traveled to Japan to meet with Hitachi officials. Since that visit, Hitachi has announced a total of 335 new jobs and $154.5 million in investment in its two Kentucky locations, according to a press release from the governor's office.

The new manufacturing capability will create 60 new jobs and represents an approximate $12 million investment in the state.

Hitachi, which has existing locations in Harrodsburg and Berea, just completed construction of its new 153,000-square-foot factory on its existing 85-acre Harrodsburg site. The expansion project, which was announced in 2010, is creating 145 new jobs in Harrodsburg and entails an investment of $68 million. The plant produces sophisticated automotive electronics. With this latest expansion, the plant will also produce the battery control electronics, which will be installed as part of the battery pack assembly.

“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 electric powered automobiles,” Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas President Mark Fujisawa said. “The North American production of these hybrid electric vehicle batteries complements our North American production of hybrid vehicle motors, which we announced last month. We are excited to further expand our United States production operations with the manufacturing of these batteries produced in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Hitachi also announced in August the establishment of its third Kentucky manufacturing facility in Berea, where it will soon start production of motors that will power advanced electric powered automobiles. The Berea plant will create 130 new jobs and result in a $74.5 million investment.