You may not think of Alabama as a center of the auto industry, but in fact, Mercedes-Benz opened an assembly plant in Tuscaloosa County back in 1993, and today Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and Mazda, as well as several Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, have operations in the Yellowhammer State.
You may also think a Republican Alabama State Senator an unlikely booster of electromobility, but Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) recently penned an op-ed in which he called for the state to “prepare for the electric vehicle wave that is coming.”
Senator Allen highlights the state’s leadership in the automotive sector (exports of Alabama-made vehicles and parts totaled $7.5 billion in 2018, making it the number-three auto exporting state in the US), and writes that “we have the opportunity to sustain that momentum for years to come through significant investments in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.”
The EV industry is already on its way to the Heart of Dixie. In 2018, Mercedes broke ground on a plant that will produce batteries for the upcoming EQ brand of Mercedes EVs. The new plant represents over a billion dollars of investment in Bibb County.
“We know that expanding EV sales and production in Alabama will require a number of investments from the industry, the legislature and eventually the consumers of this state,” writes Allen. “To cement our reputation as a forward-leaning automotive leader, we must prepare for the future of electric vehicles, production of electric vehicle parts, and ensure the necessary EV infrastructure is in place to be competitive for generations.”
In 2019, the state legislature approved the Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan, which includes an increase in the state gas tax, and a grant program to encourage the installation of new EV charging stations. This year’s state budget includes $2 million to educate the public about EVs. “These funds will go toward developing an EV industry educational website with mapping of charging stations and other useful resources, as well as funding to further build out Alabama’s EV charging infrastructure,” writes Senator Allen.