CEO Column

Jennifer Safavian | Celebrating Manufacturing Month—the International Automaker Way

Jennifer Safavian
October 28, 2022

Manufacturing Month is celebrated each October, and it offers us the opportunity to recognize how international automakers operating in the U.S. continue to improve lives and communities nationwide. This month, Autos Drive America had a lot to celebrate, with our members opening new facilities, hosting events that highlighted our robust and talented workforce, and making charitable contributions that truly make a difference.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of participating in Creators Wanted in Columbia, South Carolina. The event gave me the distinct opportunity to speak with high school students about the importance of recruiting and hiring women in modern manufacturing. Volvo Car USA’s South Carolina factory also provided a brand-new electric vehicle (EV) for students to experience, encouraging them to envision a future creating state-of-the-art green vehicles. On this same trip, Autos Drive America joined BMW North America at the opening of their new 68,000 square-foot training center in Greer, South Carolina. This center will promote creative learning, foster innovation, and advance technical skills for the rapidly changing automotive industry.

During October, members celebrated new investments in their U.S. operations and facilities. In Georgia, Hyundai officially broke ground on its first U.S. based EV manufacturing plant, which will help both Hyundai and Kia meet demand for electric vehicles. In Ohio, Honda announced a $4.4 billion commitment for building a new EV battery facility. Volkswagen Group of America also announced that Port Freeport in Texas will serve as the new Gulf Coast hub for future operations. These announcements marked Manufacturing Month 2022 as an important month for the future of international automaker manufacturing in the U.S.

Our members also commemorated key manufacturing and production milestones during Manufacturing Month, showing international automakers’ continued growth in the U.S. Nissan announced that its Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant—a central institution in Mississippi creating more than 25,000 jobs—celebrated 5 million vehicles produced at the beginning of the month.

While important, Manufacturing Month isn’t just about honoring investments in production facilities and milestones. Our members also use it to recognize the contributions of their team members and to shape the future of their workforce. Toyota hosted a Team Member Appreciation Day, while Honda Alabama, Ohio, and Indiana invited high school students and teachers to learn about STEM careers through hands-on activities that highlighted different manufacturing areas and career paths.

In Alabama alone, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International worked to break down barriers for women in STEM and manufacturing careers, hosting students from a local school for a Girls Learning About Manufacturing (GLAM) event, and earlier this fall, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing of Alabama selected 14 Drake State Students to participate in the Connecting Students with Industry Advanced Industrial Maintenance Program.

Lastly, Autos Drive America’s manufacturers celebrated Manufacturing Month by giving back to the communities where they work. Kia America donated $600,000 to local charities in conjunction with Hyundai’s EV plant groundbreaking in Georgia, while Mitsubishi loaned an electric vehicle to help rural communities access COVID-19 vaccines. Subaru of America and its retailers also partnered with local shelters, rescues, and animal welfare organizations through October to host in-person and virtual adoption events.

International automakers continue to drive the U.S. auto industry forward. Our members have achieved unparalleled growth over the past year, and they have made significant strides in U.S. investment, workforce development, and production. And I’m confident that the growth we’ve seen will continue—and that next October, we will have even more to celebrate.