Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Alabama begins work on new $30 million EV training facility

The Alabama Department of Commerce has started construction on a $30 million electric vehicle workforce training center in Decatur, Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday.

“Alabama is already a recognized leader in workforce development, and this training center concentrating on EVs and new technologies will add an important dimension to our capabilities,” Ivey said in a statement.

“This investment shows that we’re fully committed to making Alabama an even greater force in the global auto industry in the future.”

Funded through the $2.8 billion Education Trust Fund supplemental spending bill lawmakers passed earlier this year, the new training facility will help automakers train workers for EV manufacturing. The facility at the Alabama Robotics Technology Park campus is expected to be operational by mid- to late-2025.

Alabama Robotics Technology Park is a $73 million workforce training facility managed by the state Commerce Department.

Within the past year, both Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai have begun producing EVs at their vehicle plants in Alabama, a reflection of both government and industry initiatives to shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles in the coming decades.

Managed by Alabama Industrial Development Training, a division of the state commerce department, the facility will span 40,000 square feet, and has up to 40 acres of additional space for future expansions. Ed Castile, the director of AIDT, said the facility will be crucial in providing automakers with the workforce necessary to increase EV production across the state.

“Our main goal is to help the state’s automakers continue to grow during the transition to electric powertrains and assist them as they embrace new technologies that are evolving all the time,” Castile said. “We just want to make sure we have (a) workforce that has the ability to thrive in this new environment, so it’s a natural extension of what we do at Robotics Park.”

Republican Sen. Arthur Orr, who represents Decatur, was the sponsor of the ETF supplemental bill that provided the $30 million in state funding, and called Robotics Park “the perfect home” for the EV workforce training facility.

“Robotics Technology Park has long represented the gold standard for workforce training and a tremendous resource for Alabama and the companies that use it,” Orr said.

“That makes it the perfect home for this new facility focusing on advanced automotive technologies, which will ensure an important industry in our state will continue to thrive,” he added.”

In total, the $30 million represents nearly 27% of the entire Commerce Department supplemental budget of $111.6 million.

While the United States has lagged behind some countries such as Norway and China in terms of adopting EVs, sales have been on the rise, with more than 300,000 EVs sold in the United States in the third quarter of 2023, a nearly 50% increase compared to the same time in 2022. 

In 2021, President Joe Biden launched an initiative to see 50% of all new vehicle sales be EVs by 2030 through offering economic incentives to both consumers and manufacturers.

In Alabama, Mercedes began production on the electric EQS SUV in 2022 at its plant in Tuscaloosa County as part of a $1 billion investment toward EV manufacturing, which also included the construction of a battery plant in Bibb County. Hyundai began producing its own electric SUV – the GV70 SUV – in February at its plant in Montgomery County.

Expanding EV infrastructure in Alabama is also currently underway, with more than $80 million in federal dollars set to be doled out over the next five years for the construction of EV charging stations. State dollars have been allocated for constructing EV charging stations as well, with $2 million included in the 2024 General Fund budget for the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Planning Grant Program, $1.2 million of which was awarded as grants in August.

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia