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Scout Motors breaks ground on South Carolina EV plant

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Volkwagen-backed Scout Motors has broken ground on its future production center in Blythewood, South Carolina.

The build site is 1,600 acres with the plant itself occupying 1,100 acres. Bordered by I-77 and Blythewood Road, its location is less than 20 miles north of Columbia and near major cities and talent hubs such as Charleston, Charlotte, Greenville, and Atlanta. Scout says the strategic location gives it unrivaled access to major highways, ports of Charleston and Savannah, and colleges and universities focused on automotive engineering.

All-electric vehicle production is slated to begin by the end of 2026. The first retail sales of trucks and SUVs are planned to start soon after.

At peak capacity, Scout Chief Production Officer Jan Spies said 200,000 vehicles a year, or 40 an hour, will be produced at the center.

A groundbreaking ceremony held last week honored Scout’s hardworking heritage while celebrating the company’s plans and growth, according to Scout. Several original Scout vehicles and a 3D model of the center with virtual content were on display. Scout vehicles were produced by International Harvester from 1961-1980.

During the groundbreaking, Jim Poiry, a former plant manager at the original Scout factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, presented a brick from that factory to the Scout Motors team. The brick, generously gifted to Scout Motors by Harvester Homecoming and the Tippman Family, will help build the foundation for the new center.

“Today is less about construction and a building and more about a calling and a community,” said Scott Keogh, Scout Motors president and CEO, in a Feb. 15 press release. “We’re here to celebrate the revitalization of an American icon and the reshoring of American jobs. On this land — with our hands and with our technology — we will build great vehicles.”

“Today’s groundbreaking marks another milestone for Scout Motors and the entire state as we continue to move forward with this project that will supercharge the Midlands’ economy,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, in the release. “We applaud Scout Motors for their commitment, which will continue to move South Carolina towards a future defined by innovation and prosperity.”

Through an executive order issued in October 2022, McMaster prioritized building EV infrastructure, preparing the state workforce for advanced manufacturing jobs, and strategically organizing EV planning under a centralized state working group.

Scout said its trucks and SUVs will be built on a newly designed all-electric platform with a focus on ground clearance, approach angles, robust axles, payload capacity, all-electric range, and new digital features.

Scout announced it had selected South Carolina for its production center last March. In November, its first South Carolina office opened in Columbia. It serves as home base for Scout’s South Carolina team.

In August, Scout hired its first South Carolina-based team members, including Spies, Human Resources Director Corey Epps, South Carolina Liaison Punam Patel, and Security and Fire Protection Director Wendy Bashnan.

BMW also has South Carolina facilities.

In October 2022, BMW Group Chairman Oliver Zipse announced a $1.7 billion investment in its U.S. operations, including $1 billion to prepare Plant Spartanburg for the production of fully electric vehicles and $700 million to build a new high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff. The 1-million-square-foot Plant Woodruff will be located on 315 acres near the city and will include a technology building and support buildings such as a cafeteria, fire department, and energy center. Ground was broken on the plant last June.

Toyota also has plans at the factory level for its all-electric future.

Toyota Alabama announces the start of production on its i-FORCE 2.4-liter turbo engine line Wednesday for the all-new Tacoma. Powered by a previous investment of $222 million, Toyota said in a press release that the new line furthers its commitment to diversified powertrains that align with customer demand.

“Now, with Tacoma offering a hybrid option, every line at our plant includes engines for hybrid vehicles,” said Jason Puckett, president of Toyota Alabama, in the release. “It’s our team and their skills that have paved the way for this plant to play a critical role in Toyota’s electrified future.”

The new engine line marks the plant’s sixth building expansion and brings Toyota Alabama’s total investment to $1.5 billion. In 2023, the plant reached record production, assembling more than 777,000 engines for Toyota vehicles manufactured in North America.

The plant produces four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines for the Tundra, Sequoia, Corolla, Corolla Cross, Tacoma, Highlander, Sienna, and RAV4.


Featured image: Scout logo provided by Scout Motors

A rendering of Scout Motors’ future production center in South Carolina. (Provided by Scout Motors)

Original Scout vehicles were on display during Scout Motors’ South Carolina Production Center groundbreaking ceremony held in February 2024. (Provided by Scout Motors)

Scout Motors Chief Production Officer Jan Spies speaks during the South Carolina Production Center groundbreaking ceremony. (Provided by Scout Motors)

Toyota employees work on the OEM’s new engine production line in Alabama. (Provided by Toyota)

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