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North Carolina Emerges As A Electric Vehicle Leader

A recent study commissioned by WSP and the EDF published a list of the states with the most investments in electric vehicle (EV) production. The U.S. Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Investments and Jobs report reviewed investment in projects like charging stations, electric cars, and renewable energy developments. 

One state that stood out was North Carolina. As of March 2023, the Tar Heel State has seen more than $6.2 billion in EV-related investments. Two areas where growth is evident are charging infrastructure and factory construction. 

Expanding The Charging Network

In November 2022, the state Department of Environmental Quality announced it was distributing $6.8 million for charging station expansion across 64 sites. Soon there will be charging stations across major highways from the coastline to the Blue Ridge Mountains, including storm evacuation routes. The hope is the growth will reduce range anxiety and increase EV adoption.

Photo Courtesy Michael Marais

A settlement between Volkswagen and the Department of Justice is funding the charging station expansion. The North Carolina Volkswagen Mitigation Plan is rolling out EV charging sites in two phases across five programs. Seventy-five percent of the settlement funds will be used from June 2022 to 2024, with 33 out of 40 counties using renewable energy to power EV chargers. 

Private Investment Boom

Private-sector manufacturing is expanding North Carolina’s reach. Companies are setting up factories to continue building batteries, semiconductors, and other technologies. Multinational firms have seen the opportunity to build out America’s growing EV sector, especially with the incentives outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act

VinFast has allocated $4 billion to open an automotive plant. The company will build its line of electric SUVs in Chatham County, generating thousands of jobs. Construction began in 2022 and is expected to be completed in July 2024. VinFast estimates the factory can create 150,000 vehicles a year.

“VinFast’s transformative project will bring many good jobs to our state, along with a healthier environment as more electric vehicles take to the road to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

Photo Courtesy Andrew Neel

Semiconductor producer Wolfspeed plans to open a Silicon Carbide factory in Chatham County and “apply for and obtain federal funding from the CHIPS and Science Act to accelerate the construction and build-out of the facility.” It will supply companies like Jaguar Land Rover with EV technology to power a new generation of vehicles. Phase 1 of construction will be completed in 2024, costing around $1.3 billion

One of the largest EV factories is going up near Greensboro. Toyota announced the construction of a new factory in Liberty, NC, as the auto giant ramps up its electric car production.

It’s a total of $3.8 billion, $2.5 billion of which is going toward a battery plant expansion. The world’s second-largest auto manufacturer wants to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, with EVs being a big part of the solution.

“This is an exciting time for Toyota, the region, and the many North Carolinians we will soon employ,” said Sean Suggs, Toyota’s Battery Manufacturing North Carolina president. “This incremental investment reflects our continued commitment to ensuring jobs and future economic growth for the Triad region.”

Why has North Carolina become such a positive EV investment area? One big reason is access to a ready labor force receiving the proper training and certifications. This shift is boosting the state’s attractiveness, by creating jobs, helping to reduce emissions and boosting the state’s energy independence.


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